Pilot treated after ejecting from F-16 jet that crashed in New Mexico

by Vern Evans

The Air Force is investigating after an F-16 Fighting Falcon jet crashed outside of Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, on Tuesday.

The Air Force said the pilot, who was not identified, ejected from the fighter and was taken by ambulance for medical treatment. The extent of the pilot’s injuries were not immediately available.

The aircraft, assigned to the 49th Wing, crashed around 11:50 a.m. local time near White Sands National Park, about 7 miles outside of Holloman, the service said. The park is located near the Army’s White Sands Missile Range.

The Air Force warned nonemergency personnel to steer clear of the area to avoid exposure to toxic chemicals onboard the aircraft.

Additional information about the crash, including the extent of the fighter’s damage, was not immediately available.

Holloman is home to one of the Air Force’s F-16 training hubs and graduates about 180 Fighting Falcon pilots on average each year, according to its website. Tuesday’s incident marks the fourth F-16 accident within the past year, including three that occurred among the U.S.-owned fleet in South Korea.

Seventh Air Force briefly paused flying operations in late January after an F-16 assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, crashed off the country’s west coast. The pilot in that mishap ejected safely after experiencing an unspecified flight emergency, the Air Force said.

On average, about three F-16s have been totaled annually for the past decade, according the latest available data compiled by the Air Force Safety Center in 2021.

The multirole fighter was first delivered to the Air Force in 1979 for use in air-to-air and air-to-ground combat. The service now owns 841 of the fighters, a number it aims to reduce to 830 in fiscal year 2025.

Courtney Mabeus-Brown is the senior reporter at Air Force Times. She is an award-winning journalist who previously covered the military for Navy Times and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., where she first set foot on an aircraft carrier. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy and more.

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