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Fighter jet crashes in Arizona: sixth military crash in as many months

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Matt York/AP/File

(Read caption) A boneyard crew tows an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft prior to the preservation process after its arrival at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., May 15. Military officials confirm a single F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft crashed Wednesday night, about 5 miles east of Douglas Municipal Airport. The pilot with the 162nd Wing Arizona Air National Guard was the only person on board during the night training mission, according to an Arizona Air National Guard statement. The pilot's identity and condition is unknown at this time.

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A US F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed on a training mission in southern Arizona Wednesday night, according to military officials.

The aircraft was part of the 162nd Wing Arizona Air National Guard. The unidentified pilot, whose status has not been revealed, was the only person on board during the crash, military officials said.

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The Associated Press reports that the pilot is an Iraqi who has been training in the United States the past four years.

The accident site is located five miles east of Douglas Municipal Airport, which is just north of the Mexican border, NBC News reports.

Cochise County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Carol Capas told The Arizona Daily Star that the plane struck a gas line and ignited a fire which covered about 400 yards. The fire delayed first responders and authorities from immediately investigating the crash site, Ms. Capas said.

A hazardous materials team and an investigative board has now been dispatched to survey and investigate the crash site, Capas added.

In the past six months, there have been a number of accidents involving US military aircraft.

  • On Jan. 20, a California National Guard Black Hawk helicopter was forced to land on its side in an emergency landing at Ramona Airport in Ramona, Calif. during a training mission. The pilots were able to escape on their own with minor injuries.
  • Feb. 22,  a Marine fighter jet crashed near Statenville, Ga. while conducting low-altitude training exercises. The two crew members were able to eject from the plane and walked away with no serious injuries.
  • On March 10, a Black Hawk helicopter crashed off the coast of Florida killing seven Marines and four soldiers. Recovery efforts were stalled during the search because of heavy fog and weather conditions.
  • On May 17, a Marine aircraft crashed at near Bellows Air Force Station in Waimanalo, Hawaii killing two crew members on board and injuring more than a dozen others.
  • On May 22, an aircraft landing at Naval Air Station North Island crashed into San Diego Bay in southern California, but the pilot was able to eject and was rescued by a civilian boat.