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A close-up view of the Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., sign with the main gate in the background.

A close-up view of the Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., sign with the main gate in the background. (Brad Fallin/U.S. Air Force)

No major injuries were reported after a contracted fighter aircraft out of Luke Air Force Base crashed Thursday morning into a stretch of desert near the town of Buckeye, Ariz., base officials said.

The pilot ejected safely from the Mirage F-1 fighter aircraft before it crashed at about 11:11 a.m. into an unpopulated area about 15 miles northwest of the base, which is located near Phoenix. The cause of the incident is under investigation, according to base officials.

“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,” Brig. Gen. Gregory Kreuder, commander of the base’s 56th Fighter Wing, said in a statement. “We are thankful for the continued outstanding support Luke receives from our community partners, especially during difficult situations like this. Finally, I’m grateful nobody was hurt on the ground and the pilot was safely recovered with only minor injuries.”

The pilot involved in the incident is an employee of a company contracted to fly against Air Force jets in training missions, said Sean Clements, a spokesman for Luke Air Force Base.

Support teams from 56th Civil Engineer Squadron’s fire department and explosive ordnance disposal unit, as well as the 56th Security Forces Squadron responded to the scene, according to base officials. The Buckeye Police Department also responded.

Luke Air Force Base is home to the 56th Fighter Wing. It is part of the Air Education and Training Command and responsible for training about 75% of the world’s F-35 pilots, according to the base. Aside from U.S. Air Force pilots, the base also trains pilots from Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore and Denmark.

The two primary aircraft flown at the base are the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the F-35A Lightning II, according to the base. Both are fighter jets. About 4,800 active-duty personnel are assigned to Luke Air Force Base.

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Rose L. Thayer is based in Austin, Texas, and she has been covering the western region of the continental U.S. for Stars and Stripes since 2018. Before that she was a reporter for Killeen Daily Herald and a freelance journalist for publications including The Alcalde, Texas Highways and the Austin American-Statesman. She is the spouse of an Army veteran and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism. Her awards include a 2021 Society of Professional Journalists Washington Dateline Award and an Honorable Mention from the Military Reporters and Editors Association for her coverage of crime at Fort Hood.
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