Human remains have been found at an Arizona crash site where an F-16 fighter jet piloted by a student from Taiwan went down, the military has said.
Luke Air Force Base officials said the pilot was likely to have been killed in the crash at around 8.45am local time on Thursday in a remote area of northwest Arizona.
‘While this is not conclusive, it is another indication the pilot did not survive the accident,’ the base said in a late-night news release, which added that a coroner will make the final identification.
Officials from the suburban Phoenix air base said the man with the Taiwanese Air Force was flying solo and engaged in air-to-air combat training with an instructor when his F-16 went down.
It is still unclear why the plane crashed.
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Human remains have been found at an Arizona crash site where an F-16 fighter jet (file picture) piloted by a student from Taiwan went down
Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, commander of the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke, said rescue crews had been on the ground searching for the pilot, whose name wasn’t released.
‘All indications lead me to believe that the pilot did not survive the accident,’ Pleus said.
Pleus said the student pilot had been in a training program for the past six months at Luke, which is a major pilot-training base for the Air Force and foreign military services.
He said an interim safety board has been formed to conduct a preliminary investigation into the crash.
According to Fox News, authorities believe the rugged terrain may have made it more difficult to find the pilot.
Bagdad is about 85 miles northwest of the base, which is located in suburban Glendale.
Yavapai County sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn says the Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the Air Force and sent a helicopter to the area.
Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr sent troopers, a rescue helicopter and explosive ordinance and hazardous material teams, spokesmen said.
Sean Kauffman, of the Williamson Valley-Bagdad Fire District, says fire officials were told the crash occurred about 10 miles southwest of Bagdad.
Recent previous crashes involving F-16s from Luke included one on a training mission in southern New Mexico. That pilot ejected safely.
So did an instructor pilot and a student pilot in June 2013 after their two-seat F-16 hit several birds during takeoff from Luke. The jet crashed in a farm field.
An Air Force investigation report said the instructor pilot was at fault because he made a rapid climbing turn after the bird strike, robbing the plane of airspeed and the ability to recover and return to the base.