Tue, Nov 28, 2006
Fighter Was Strafing Insurgents
The whereabouts and condition of a
US Air Force pilot whose F-16 crashed outside Baghdad
Monday are still unknown, according to military
The F-16CG fighter, flying for the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing
out of Balad Air Base, crashed Monday afternoon approximately 20
miles northwest of Baghdad, in an area near Fallujah officials say
was teeming with insurgent activity. The plane was engaged in
low-level strafing runs to support troops on the ground when it
went down for as-yet unknown reasons.
The Air Force has convened an investigative board to look into
the crash. Officials would not comment on the possibility the
fighter was shot down. The unnamed pilot has been classified as
"duty status and whereabouts unknown," said Maj. Gen. William
Caldwell, at a Tuesday news conference in Baghdad.
"Coalition reconnaissance assets and fighter aircraft were
overhead when the crash occurred and confirmed that insurgents were
in the vicinity of the crash site immediately following the crash,"
the statement said. "Ground forces secured the crash scene Monday,
as soon as the combat operations in the area ceased."
Video shown on the middle-eastern television network Al-Jazeera
purportedly shows smoldering wreckage of the aircraft, including
shots of the fighter's tail that identifies the aircraft as
AF900776, assigned to the 524th Fighter Squadron.
Responders found the single-place F-16's ejection seat, but it
wasn't possible to determine if the pilot had used the seat or not
-- contrary to reports from witnesses in the area that the pilot
died after ejecting from the plane.
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