A law enforcement officer was shocked to discover a low-flying F-16 over a deserted California highway while recently testing his radar equipment.
California Highway Patrol Officer Chris Bol’s radar detector was alerting him to a speeder, despite his location in a remote area of highway with no one in sight. It wasn’t until he exited his vehicle that he discovered an F-16 flying overhead.
“When the radar in your patrol car is going crazy but you don’t see any cars on the road, look up!” the California Highway Patrol’s Bishop station posted alongside the video on its Facebook page.
Bol captured the footage on his cell phone as the F-16 circled for another pass. It then made a left turn and disappeared over the horizon.
His radar reportedly captured the jet flying at approximately 250 miles per hour. The jet can fly up to 1,500 miles per hour – Mach 2 speed.
One CHP officer told Business Insider that “low-altitude fly-bys” are a frequent occurrence due to the airspace’s usage by several air bases. Aircraft are commonly picked up on CHP’s radar systems, with jets recorded at more than 300 miles per hour.
Since Bol’s radar system was alerted before he ever got out of the car, it’s possible that the F-16 was intentionally circling the area, perhaps to toy with the officer’s radar.
It’s not clear where the F-16 was stationed, although it could have come from the Arizona Air National Guard, or Hill Air Force Base in Utah, which is a maintenance hub for the F-16, according to Popular Mechanics.
Hill Air Force Base is a part of the F-16 Service Life Extension Program partnership with Ogden Air Logistics Complex and the Air Force Lifecycle Management Center, which is expected to keep the F-16 operational until 2048 or later, according to a Hill Air Force Base statement. The program increases the F-16’s lifetime flying hours to 12,000 – up from 8,000.
The very first F-16 was delivered to Hill Air Force’s 388th Tactical Fighter Wing in 1979. Four decades later, it’s considered a top, cost-efficient fighter jet at less than $30 million.
“In an air combat role, the F-16’s maneuverability and combat radius (distance it can fly to enter air combat, stay, fight and return) exceed that of all potential threat fighter aircraft. It can locate targets in all weather conditions and detect low flying aircraft in radar ground clutter,” the Air Force noted.
According to Lockheed Martin, the F-16 “remains the world’s most successful, combat-proven multi-role fighter,” and is poised to fly beyond 2070 with innovative structural and operational upgrades.
“Approximately 3,000 operational F-16s are in service today in 25 countries,” the company added.