Investigators have identified human remains likely belonging to a Taiwanese F-16 student pilot who crashed Jan. 21 about 100 miles away from Luke AFB, Ariz. Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, commander of the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke, said all indications are that the pilot did not survive the crash, which occurred around 8:45 a.m. local time. The cause of the crash is not known, but the 56th Fighter Wing, which trains US and international pilots on the F-16, has convened an interim safety board to investigate. The initial report of the crash came from the pilot’s wingman, his instructor pilot, who remained on scene until relieved by F-35s during the initial search and rescue operation, Pleus said during a Jan. 21 ?press conference. “The F-16s were flying a basic fighter training maneuver sortie” that “consists of high G maneuvering between two aircraft in an air-to-air fight,” said Pleus. “This training is absolutely critical to teaching our young pilots how to maneuver their aircraft in relationship to one another in order to gain and achieve a tactical advantage.” Such maneuvers, however, take “a lot of physical strength and stamina,” he added. The Taiwanese student had been flying at Luke for about six months and routinely conducted such maneuvers, Pleus said.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.