US Air Force pilot killed when F-16 crashes in Middle East

The U.S. military is investigating the death of an Air Force pilot following the crash of an F-16 plane returning to its base in the Middle East Sunday night.

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) issued a statement Monday saying the pilot was killed when the F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed in a non-combat-related incident.  The aircraft was returning to its base shortly after takeoff, the statement said.

While CENTCOM said the crash did not happen in Iraq or Syria, there were no further details on the exact location of the base. First-responders were still on the scene Monday.

The pilot has not been named, but it’s standard U.S. military policy to defer identification until 24 hours after next-of-kin notification.

The U.S. has several bases in the Middle East supporting aerial efforts against ISIS in the region.

Although this is not a combat-related death, it’s considered a death associated with Operation Inherent Resolve. President Obama authorized CENTCOM to work with partner nations to conduct targeted airstrikes in Syria and Iraq as part of a strategy to defeat ISIS terrorists.

This is the third death associated with the operation. All three were non-combat-related deaths.