Well it looks like the most recent F-16 crash might not have anything to do with camel spiders, but something much more serious.
Tactical Report blog reports that there are indications the F-16 that crashed four days ago was shot down. This is a disturbing development if true, since the U.S. military had seemingly gotten its arms around the spate of crashes and shoot-downs of helicopters.
The indication that the shoot-down occurred during the aircrafts takeoff is also alarming because it points to the possibility that MANPAD teams are able to get close enough to U.S. air bases to launch in the opening moments of an aircrafts flight.
The Tactical Report article follows:
Another US F-16 aircraft crashed on 15/7/07 during takeoff at Balad air base, 80 kilometers north of Baghdad. This was the second F-16 aircraft crash in just a month, as a crash had taken place on 15/6/07 shortly after taking off from the same base.
While the pilot of the first crash was killed, the pilot of the second one survived. But what caused both crashes remains under investigations by the US Air Force.
Reports from Baghdad suggest that hostile fire caused both crashes.
According to these reports, it is not just a coincidence that both aircraft crashed during takeoff.
Circles close to the Iraqi Defense Ministry suspect that a shoulder-held anti-aircraft missile might have been fired at both aircraft from an area not far from the air base.
These circles add that it is too difficult for any aircraft to maneuver and avoid a missile during takeoff.
According to these circles, the Iraqi insurgency has different types of anti-aircraft missiles, including SAM-7, SAM-8 and SAM-11, which can hit an aircraft during taking off or flying at low altitude.
UPDATE: Astute readers pointed out that while the SA-7 is a MANPAD, the others listed are not. It would be pretty unlikely for the USAF to not notice a truck-mounted system parked close by its air field, which casts even more doubt on the authenticity of this report. But it's still worth keeping and eye on what MNF-I determines might have been the cause of the crashes.