Air Force

Air National Guard F-16 Crashes Near Washington, DC

Updated 10:50 a.m. Eastern

An Air National Guard F-16C Fighting Falcon fighter jet crashed Wednesday morning near Washington, D.C., an official said.

The plane went down at 9:17 a.m. local time in an unpopulated area about six miles southwest of National Harbor, Maryland, where U.S. military and industry officials are meeting for the Navy League's annual Sea-Air-Space conference, according to the official who spoke to Military.com on the condition of anonymity.

The pilot from D.C. Air National Guard's 113th Wing safely ejected from the fourth-generation fighter made by Lockheed Martin Corp. "and sustained non-life threatening injuries," according to an email from Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys, a spokesman for Joint Base Andrews.

It wasn't immediately clear what caused the accident, which apparently destroyed the roughly $20 million aircraft. At the time of the incident, the pilot was flying the plane alongside other aircraft in a routine training mission in the greater Washington area, according to the release.

The F-16 is a single-engine multirole fighter. As of Sept. 30, the Air Force had a total of 949 Fighting Falcons in the inventory, according to service inventory figures obtained by Military.com. That figure includes 334 of the aircraft in the Guard, with 289 single-seat F-16Cs and 45 two-seat F-16Ds.

Last March, an F-16CM crashed in Afghanistan after experiencing a turbine malfunction in its engine. Months later, an Air Force Thunderbirds jet was returning to Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, after the Air Force Academy graduation flyover -- attended by President Barack Obama -- when it crashed in a nearby field. Air Combat Command later disclosed an accidental throttle rotation led to a malfunction and subsequent engine stall in the F-16 contributed to its crash.

Service officials recently said they're considering retiring the F-15C/D Eagle as early as the mid-2020s. While the decision would mean divesting an entire aircraft class, officials said F-15 missions would be carried out by F-16s -- a potential cost-saving measure that would allow pilots to train on fewer platforms.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.