Iraqi pilot’s fate unknown after F-16 crashes in Arizona

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An F-16 on a night training mission has crashed in southeastern Arizona, and the fate of the Iraqi student pilot on board is still unknown, officials said.

The fighter jet belonged to the Iraqi Air Force, and rescue efforts were continuing, the 162nd Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard said

The 162nd Wing, headquartered in Tucson, specializes in the training of international F-16 Fighting Falcon aircrews.

The crash occurred about 8 p.m. Wednesday about five miles east of Douglas Municipal Airport, sparking a fire. The airport is located near the U.S.-Mexico border.

“You can smell the oil and grass burning and some sort of plastic burning,” said Omar Estrada, who captured the crash aftermath on his cellphone, told CNN affiliate KGUN. “It was right in your face. My clothes still smell like it.”

Firefighters were able to contain the grass fire before it spread.

“The Embassy staff and I offer our prayers for the safety of the pilot and to his family which is anxiously waiting an update on his status,” said Lukman Faily, Iraq’s ambassador to the United States.

By Cameron Tankersley