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Air Force says engine assembly issue was cause of F-16 crash in Maryland

F-16 pilots prepare for takeoff during training exercise at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.

KENNETH NORMAN/U.S. AIR FORCE

By IAN DUNCAN | The Baltimore Sun (Tribune News Service) | Published: October 27, 2017

A problem with the way its engine was installed caused an F-16 fighter jet to crash in Prince George’s County in April, the Air Force said Thursday.

The District of Columbia Air National Guardsman piloting the plane ejected safely, but the $22 million jet was destroyed in the crash.

The F-16 was one of four that launched from Joint Base Andrews in April for a routine training mission. Shortly after takeoff one of the planes began behaving strangely, Air Force investigators said.

The pilot ditched extra fuel tanks to try to regain control of the plane but its engine ultimately caught fire. The pilot put the fire out, but by that time the engine was too badly damaged and he had to abandon the plane, investigators said.

Two missing pieces in the engine were likely to blame for the fire, investigators concluded.

About 20 homes near the crash site were briefly evacuated but nobody was harmed.

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