-- An Air Force F-16 fighter jet from the D.C. Air National Guard’s 113th Fighter Wing crashed Wednesday morning in suburban Maryland shortly after takeoff from Joint Base Andrews.
The F-16 had taken off from Joint Base Andrews along with three other F-16s to conduct routine training including strafing runs at a military training range.
"The aircraft was flying along with other DCANG aircraft in a routine training mission in the greater Washington area. The aircraft carried only one pilot. The pilot ejected and sustained nonlife-threatening injuries," according to an official statement from the 113th Fighter Wing of the D.C. Air National Guard that is based at Joint Base Andrews.
Air Force officials attributed the crash to a mechanical error and said an investigation is underway to determine the exact cause of the crash.
Minutes after takeoff "the pilot experienced a mechanical issue, and immediately took actions," Brigadier General George Degnon, acting adjutant for the D.C. National Guard said at a news conference.
Degnon said the pilot initially attempted to return to Joint Base Andrews, but "once he realized that he would not be able to safely land the aircraft, he made a decision to maneuver to a wooded area to avoid the risk to the local community before initiating the ejection sequence."
The pilot was flown to the base hospital at Andrews and has been released and is "in good spirits."
The aircraft had 510 training rounds of live ammunition aboard that was to be used in strafing runs at a live-fire training range.
Officials noted that the training rounds were not a threat to the public since they contain less gunpowder than the high explosive rounds used in combat.