A privately contracted fighter aircraft crashes near Luke Air Force Base, Arizona late Thursday morning.
“At approximately 11:11 a.m. today, during a routine training mission, a contracted Mirage F1 fighter aircraft operating out of Luke Air Force Base crashed 15 miles northwest of the base in an unpopulated area,” the Air Force Base said in an afternoon press release. “The pilot was able to safely eject. The cause of the incident is under investigation.”
Following the crash, support teams from the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department, 56th CES explosive ordnance disposal unit, and 56th Security Forces Squadron arrived on the scene.
Fox 10 reporter Nicole Garcia tweeted video footage showcasing the crash site. “Breaking : military aircraft crashes in Desert in Buckeye, pilot reportedly ejected before the crash and is safe. Crash debris strewn across the desert. Waiting for an update from military police/Luke Air Force Base #fox10phoenix.”
Brig. Gen. Gregory Kreuder, 56th Fighter Wing Commander said, “Our Airmen and partners are our most important resource and we are committed to conducting our mission to train the world’s greatest fighter pilots as safely as possible.”
“We are thankful for the continued outstanding support Luke receives from our community partners, especially during difficult situations like this,” Kreuder added. “Finally, I’m grateful nobody was hurt on the ground and the pilot was safely recovered with only minor injuries.”
Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC), the private company that provided the aircraft told AZ Family, “Today, an ATAC Mirage F1 fighter aircraft supporting military flight training at Luke Air Force Base was destroyed when it crashed in an uninhabited area outside the base. The pilot safely ejected and is being treated for minor injuries. ATAC is investigating the incident and will work with relevant authorities to determine the cause and take any remedial action that is necessary. We ask for your understanding as we work through all the details of this investigation. ATAC will provide more information as it becomes available.”
ATAC is a subsidiary of Textron and operates a variety of fighter aircraft, including Mk-58 Hawker Hunter, Israeli F-21 Kfir, A-4 Skyhawk, L-39 Albatros II and the French Mirage F-1. The company employs former military aviators and uses its aircraft to train with active military aviators in the Air Force, Navy, Marines and Air National Guard, honing their tactical flight skills.
AZ Family reported the FAA placed a 24-hour temporary flight restriction in a five-mile area around the crash site.