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DOD identifies pilot killed in F-16 crash in Afghanistan

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – A fighter pilot killed in a jet that crashed Wednesday in Afghanistan has been identified by the Defense Department as Capt. James Michael Steel of Tampa, Fla.

Steel, a 29-year-old F-16 pilot, was assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron out of Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., a statement said.

Steel was returning from a routine air support mission when his Fighting Falcon crashed about 10 miles south of Bagram Airfield. He was on his final approach when he lost contact with his wingman and the control tower at about 11 p.m., a spokesperson for Air Force Central Command said.

According to a press release from the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, initial reporting indicated there was no insurgent activity in the area at the time of the crash. Steel’s body was recovered soon after his jet went down, according to the coalition.

news@stripes.com

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