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F-16 jet crashes in western Louisiana; Pilot ejects safely

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This story was updated on March 23rd at 4:21pm EST.

An F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet crashed in western Louisiana Wednesday noon, a state police spokesman confirmed to the Air Force Times.

The Oklahoma Air National Guard jet crashed in an uninhabited, wooded area of ​​the township of Beauregard near the Louisiana-Texas border south of Fort Polk. Its pilot was safely ejected and taken to the Army base, said Derek Senegal, first class police trooper with the Louisiana State Police.

The area’s terrain made it difficult for law enforcement to reach the crash site, he added. Troops from Fort Polk and Barksdale Air Force Base, about 125 miles north in Shreveport, are handling the recovery and investigation.

The F-16 is part of a Houston-based branch of Oklahoma’s 138th Fighter Squadron, which manages the aircraft at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, spokeswoman Capt. Jennifer Proctor said Wednesday. The jet was about 150 miles east in Louisiana for training in military airspace set back from populated areas.

As part of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, Oklahoma airmen are based in Houston protecting US airspace along the Gulf of Mexico and as far north as Arizona. They train at Tulsa Air National Guard Base before heading south to Ellington Field.

Previous crime scene reports incorrectly indicated the plane belonged to the Texas Air National Guard.

According to the Air Force Safety Center, the Air Force suffered three F-16 accidents in fiscal 2021, including one that destroyed the aircraft and killed its pilot. About three Fighting Falcons have been tallyed together on average each year for the past ten years.

The service owns approximately 900 F-16C/D airframes that have flown since the 1980s. Each jet cost $19 million in 1998, the Air Force said, or more than $30 million now.

This is an evolving story. Stay tuned to Air Force Times for more details.

Rachel Cohen joined the Air Force Times in March 2021 as a senior reporter. Her work has been published in Air Force Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy, Frederick News-Post (Md.), Washington Post, and others.

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