Rescue efforts continue after one F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft training with the 162nd Wing Arizona Air National Guard crashed at about 8pm on June 24 five miles east of Douglas Municipal Airport. The F-16 belongs to the Iraqi Air Force and was being flown by an Iraqi student pilot on a night training mission.
“The status of the pilot is still unknown at this time,” the Guard said in a statement. The Air Force has assembled an interim safety board to investigate the crash.
The pilot was Brig Gen Rafid Mohammed Hassan and has been training in the U.S. for four years, a spokesman for the Iraqi defense minister, Brig Gen Tahseen Ibrahim, told The Associated Press.
“We have no word yet on his fate or the reason behind the crash. We are in contact with the Americans to get more details,” Ibrahim told AP.
Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels told AP that the plane hit a gas pipeline and caught fire. He said the scenario is difficult and dangerous for the search-and-rescue operations.
The 162nd Wing Air National Guard’s F-16 fighter pilot training unit is the largest ANG fighter wing in the country. The 162nd is the “face of the USAF to the world” providing the best-trained coalition war-fighting partners for the United States Air Force. As of Jan 2015, the wing has already trained pilots from 28 countries that fly the F-16.
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