F-16 Fighting Falcon crashes outside of Safford killing pilot

SAFFORD, AZ -

An Iraqi student pilot was killed when an F-16 jet crashed during a training mission in southeastern Arizona, authorities said Wednesday.

First Lt. Lacey Roberts of the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Wing said the Air Force has activated a team to investigate the crash, which occurred Tuesday about 80 miles  (129 kilometers) northwest of Tucson.

According to Roberts, the pilot has been identfied as Major Pilot Noor Faleh Rassan Al-Khazali. He was conducting a routine F-16 training mission in conjunction with the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Wing in Tucson when he died in the crash.

His death was the second of an Iraqi pilot flying an F-16 that crashed in Arizona in recent years.

Roberts said the plane belonged to the Iraqi air force and that the routine training mission was being conducted in conjunction with the 162nd Wing, which is based at Tucson International Airport.

The U.S. military is training Iraqi pilots to fly F-16s at the request of Iraq's government, Roberts said.

In July 2015, an Iraqi brigadier general flying from the 162nd died when his F-16, a newer model recently delivered to the Iraqi air force, crashed during night training near Douglas.

In January 2016, a Taiwanese pilot on a training flight from Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix was killed when his F-16 went down in Yavapai County.

The 162nd Wing is the Air Guard's biggest F-16 training operation and conducts training missions across military ranges in southern and central Arizona.

The wing has hosted training for allied nations since 1990 and trained pilots from nations such as Iraq, Singapore, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Oman, Belgium and the Netherlands.

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