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Iraqi Pilot Confirmed Dead in F-16 Crash in Arizona

Lt. Col. Julian Pacheco and Iraqi air force captain Hama land one of the IAF's F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft Dec. 16, 2014, at the Tucson International Airport, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jordan Castelan)
Lt. Col. Julian Pacheco and Iraqi air force captain Hama land one of the IAF's F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft Dec. 16, 2014, at the Tucson International Airport, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jordan Castelan)

An Iraqi student pilot was killed when an F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed in southeastern Arizona on Tuesday, the Air Force confirmed Wednesday.

The Iraqi, who wasn't immediately identified, was conducting routine training in an aircraft belonging to the Iraqi air force through a program with the Arizona National Guard's 162nd Wing, the service said in a release Wednesday.

The crash occurred about 20 miles northwest of Safford, the Guard said in a release.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the single-engine fighter struck any property or was destroyed.

An interim safety board has begun investigating the accident, according to the Air Force.

In 2015, Iraqi Brig. Gen. Rafid Mohammed Hassan died after his F-16 crashed east of Douglas Municipal Airport, southeast of Tucson, Arizona. Hassan was also training with the 162nd, which hosts the international F-16 fighter pilot training program.

The program often hosts students from Iraq, Singapore, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Oman, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Iraq is in the process of buying a fleet of F-16s from the U.S.

The U.S. in 2014 delivered the first two of 36 purchased F-16s to the Iraqi government at Tucson International Airport.

The Iraqi pilots, whom U.S. officials describe as an integral part of the coalition in the fight against the Islamic State, have been flying at Tucson as part of ongoing training.

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

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Oriana Pawlyk Headlines Air Force Crashes and Collisions

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