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U.S. F-16 crashes in Iraq, pilot dead - witnesses

November 27, 2006

U.S. F-16 crashes in Iraq, pilot dead - witnesses

By Yehuda Gruber

FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - An F-16 fighter on a combat mission near Baghdad crashed on Monday, and the pilot appeared to have died after ejecting. 

A local journalist who shot film of the wreckage of the plane after it came down north of Falluja in Iraq's western Anbar province said he was in no doubt the pilot was dead. 

The U.S. military confirmed the crash but said it had no information on the fate of the pilot or the cause of the crash. 

A resident from the village of Al Jasan steps on the wing of a U.S. F-16 fighter that crashed on a combat mission, about 15 km north of Falluja November 27, 2006. The U.S. military confirmed the crash but said it had no information on the fate of the pilot or the cause of the crash. (REUTERS/Stringer)
The film showed the bloodied and motionless body of what appeared to be a man in a flight suit wearing a parachute harness lying in a field strewn with the wreckage of the plane. 

"A United States Air Force F-16CG engaged in support of coalition ground combat operations crashed approximately 20 miles northwest of Baghdad today at about 1:35 p.m. Baghdad time (1035 GMT) with one pilot on board," a U.S. military statement said. 

"A board will be convened to investigate the incident." 

Residents in the town of Garma said the crash site had been surrounded by U.S. troops. 

While helicopter crashes in Iraq are not uncommon, it is rare for a fixed-wing aircraft to come down. 

In January 2005 10 British servicemen were killed when a Hercules transport plane was brought down by ground-to-air fire. In May that year two U.S. fighter jets crashed after apparently colliding in mid-air. 

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