Iraqi student pilot killed in F-16 jet crash near Safford

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File photo of an F-16 Fighting Falcon (Source: Arizona Air National Guard) File photo of an F-16 Fighting Falcon (Source: Arizona Air National Guard)

An F-16 fighter jet crashed late Tuesday night and the Iraqi pilot was killed 20 miles northwest of Safford in southeastern Arizona.

The Fighting Falcon went down around 3 p.m. Tuesday.

The jet was based out of the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing.

According to First Lt. Lacey Roberts with the 162nd Wing, the Iraqi student pilot was conducting a routine F-16 training mission in conjunction with the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Wing in Tucson when it went down.

The pilot was flying an F-16 belonging to the Iraqi air force. The U.S. Air Force is training Iraqi pilots in F-16 fighters at the request of the Iraqi government, Roberts said.

The Graham County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the pilot died just before 10:30 p.m.

The Air Force has assembled an interim safety board to investigate the incident.

According to the Arizona Air National Guard, the F-16 Fighting Falcon is a "compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. It provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations."

Safford is about a three-hour drive east from Phoenix via U.S. 70 and U.S. 60. Driving via Interstate 10 adds about 30 minutes.

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