An Air Force investigation blames the crash of an F-16CM fighter jet earlier this year in Afghanistan on an “engine hardware malfunction,” costing the U.S. government $29 million.
The crash into a field of crops occurred March 29, and although the Air Force only listed the geographic location as a rural area “in the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility,” news reports from around that time show that an F-16 crashed in Afghanistan.
According to the investigation, the engine malfunctioned because one turbine blade failed and broke loose, damaging other blades, as well. As a result, the engine could not provide the thrust to keep the F-16 in the air. This condition quickly resulted in a mid-air stall with the aircraft plummeting to the ground.
Luckily, the pilot managed to eject safely before the F-16 crashed close to Bagram Airfield, suffering only minor injuries in the process. The airfield is located 30 miles north of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. The jet was part of the 421st Fighter Squadron of the 388th Fighter Wing based out of Utah. Coalition forces quickly secured the area, but soon determined enemy fire was not the cause of the crash.
The pilot’s name has not been released.
In total, the U.S. government lost $29.07 million, owing to the loss of the fighter jet and the compensation paid to owners of the field of crops.
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