NATO: F-16 crash-lands on Italian airbase

NATO: F-16 crash-lands on Italian airbase
# 27 April 2011 19:50 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. An F-16 fighter-bomber from the United Arab Emirates crashed on landing Wednesday at an air base in southern Italy after completing a transfer flight from another base, officials said, APA reports quoting “Associated Press”.
He said the pilot ejected safely after landing on the outbound runway at the air base at Sigonella in western Sicily at 11:35 am.
The official, who could not be named in line with standing regulations, said the warplane had just arrived from an air base in Sardinia.
Sigonella is located about 360 miles (600 kilometers) north of Libya’s capital, Tripoli. It has been used extensively by aircraft from several NATO nations for bombing missions over Libya. Non-NATO nations participating in the operation, including Sweden and the United Arab Emirates, also use it.
Italian police have opened a probe into the crash landing, NATO said in a statement.
The alliance declined to reveal which country the F-16 belonged to, but the General Command of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces confirmed that one of its planes had veered off the runway, forcing the pilot to eject.
The military’s statement was issued through the Emirates official state news agency, WAM. The military said the incident occurred because of bad weather and said the plane had sustained minor structural damage. It didn’t provide further details.
The UAE agreed in late March to deploy 12 planes — six F-16s and six Mirage fighters — to help enforce the no-fly zone over Libya, becoming the second Arab country after Qatar to contribute aircraft to the effort.
No NATO aircraft had been lost since the alliance’s missions over Libya started March 31. A U.S. F-15 crashed in Libya before NATO took over command of the strike missions.
The alliance has conducted almost 4,000 sorties in the past four weeks. More than 1,600 of those have been strike sorties.
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