Pilot of F-16C that crashed in Iraq is identified
November 30, 2006
The Pentagon has identified the Air Force pilot who is listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown after his fighter jet crashed Monday near Karmah, Iraq.
Maj. Troy L. Gilbert of the 309th Fighter Squadron out of Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., was piloting the F-16C when it went down about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad, Department of Defense officials said Wednesday.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, though U.S. military spokesmen in Iraq have said enemy fire likely was not a factor in the incident.
While Gilbert’s status is officially “DUSTWUN,” in military parlance, several broadcast videos have shown images of what is purported to be a dead American pilot in an ejection seat and parachute.
Gilbert’s body was not at the crash site when U.S. forces arrived on the scene after the crash, officials have said.
Recovery efforts are continuing in the region.
In the days after the crash, there was confusion about the aircraft and the pilot. The aircraft was assigned to the 524th Fighter Squadron, 27th Fighter Wing from Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., officials have said. Both the 524th and the 309th — Gilbert’s squadron — are deployed to Balad Air Base in Iraq, flying missions to support ground troops throughout the country.
Late on Tuesday, a pair of insurgent groups claimed they’d shot down the jet, but U.S. military officials discounted that claim as unlikely.
The jet went down around 1:30 p.m. Monday in an empty field. The Associated Press quoted one witness, interviewed by phone, as saying the plane had been flying erratically before it nose-dived into the field.