The F-16 fighter jet that crashed in Arizona overnight was actually owned by the Iraqi Air Force and flown by an Iraqi pilot, a U.S. Air Force official confirmed to ABC News today.
Local law enforcement has been on the scene since the crash last night near Douglas, Arizona, but Air Force officials have yet to confirmed the identity of the pilot, who they say is an Iraqi trainee. The crash caused a large grass fire and it’s likely the pilot did not survive, authorities said.
Officially, the Air Force is saying only that the pilot’s status is unknown.
The Iraqi military is involved in a program to train Iraqi Air Force pilots in the United States before it receives the jets in Iraq. The first two of 36 jets purchased by the Iraqi government arrived at the Tucson International Airport, Arizona this December, where Iraqi pilots are training, officials said.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed during a training mission at about 8 p.m. on Wednesday near Douglas, Arizona, with one person on board, the 162nd Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard said in statement.
The 162nd in responsible for the international training mission, which the Iraqis are depending on to combat the militant group ISIS.
Iraq has received a total of 12 brand new F-16s, all of which are currently in the U.S. The first delivery of the jets to Iraq is expected this summer.