Iraqi student pilot killed in F-16 desert crash in Arizona
SAFFORD, Ariz. (AP) — An Iraqi student jet fighter pilot was killed when an F-16 jet crashed during a training mission in southeastern Arizona, authorities said Wednesday.
First Lt. Lacey Roberts of the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Wing said the Air Force is investigating the crash, which occurred Tuesday about 80 miles (129 kilometers) northwest of Tucson.
The pilot's identity was not released. His death was the second of an Iraqi pilot flying an F-16 that crashed in Arizona in recent years.
Roberts said the plane belonged to the Iraqi air force and that the routine training mission was being conducted in conjunction with the 162nd Wing, which is based at Tucson International Airport.
The jet crashed in desert terrain, leaving a crater and scattered debris, said Graham County Undersheriff Carl "Jeff" McCormies.
The U.S. military is training Iraqi pilots to fly F-16s at the request of Iraq's government, Roberts said.
In July 2015, an Iraqi brigadier general flying from the 162nd died when his F-16, a newer model recently delivered to the Iraqi air force, crashed during night training near Douglas.
In January 2016, a Taiwanese pilot on a training flight from Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix was killed when his F-16 went down in Yavapai County.
The 162nd Wing is the Air Guard's biggest F-16 training operation and conducts training missions across southern and central Arizona military ranges.
The wing has hosted training since 1990 and has trained pilots from Iraq, Singapore, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Oman, Belgium and the Netherlands.