The US Air Force has confirmed the death of Iraqi F-16 student pilot Brig Gen Rasid Mohammed Sadiq Hasan, whose Lockheed Martin F-16 crashed in the Arizona desert in an apparent training accident last week.
The aircraft belongs to the Iraqi Air Force and went down about eight miles east of the Douglas Municipal Airport on the USA-Mexico border.
Iraqi pilots have been training with the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Fighter Wing since 2012 at an international F-16 schoolhouse based at the Tucson International Airport. This has also supported pilot training for F-16 operators from Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Singapore, and was chosen to house Iraqi F-16s after the Islamic State terrorist group overran large parts of western Iraq early last year.
Baghdad had hoped to receive its first F-16s last September, but they were instead diverted to Tucson to support pilot training until the security situation in Iraq improves.
“The air force has assembled an interim safety board to investigate the incident," the 162nd Wing said in a 25 June statement, noting that the aircraft belonged to Iraq and was not one of the many USAF jets assigned to training.
The first 14 Iraqi aircraft had been due to arrive in Tucson pending a further basing decision. Iraq has ordered 36 of the type via a Foreign Military Sales deal, and those aircraft are currently being assembled by Lockheed in Fort Worth, Texas.