US Air Force training jet crashes in northeast Mississippi
A US Air Force jet has crashed in northeast Mississippi, with two pilots ejecting safely from the plane before the point of impact.
Officials from the Columbus Air Force Base said in a statement that a T-38C Talon II jet had crashed at around 8.30am on Wednesday morning. According to local news sources, a large fire broke out upon impact, the smoke from which could be seen from up to 20 miles away.
The statement confirmed that the two pilots that managed to escape were quickly recovered and transported to hospital for evaluation.
The statement also added that: "First responders have extinguished the fire and are securing the area. There are no houses or other structures in the immediate area of the crash."
Officials further stated that more details will be released as they become available, but it is believed that the plane came down near the border of Lowndes and Monroe counties. At this time, no information has been given as to what may have caused the jet to crash.
While the T-38 is one of the most frequently-used supersonic training jets in the world, the T-38C is an upgraded model and is believed to be used specifically to train pilots for more advanced bombing missions.
According to the Columbus Air Force Base's website, an average of 260 sorties are flown every day on the bases' three parallel runways, adding that: "In addition to the flying training mission, Columbus AFB maintains more than 900 highly trained individuals capable of deploying at a moment's notice to support worldwide taskings and contingencies." It described its safety record as "unparalleled".
Just over a decade ago, in April 2008, two pilots were killed in another crash while flying a T-38 jet from the same airbase. It was determined that a mechanical failure on board the plane was responsible for this crash.
It's the second time in the space of a week that the US military has experienced close-call incidents. On Friday, officials from Fort Bliss US Army Base in El Paso, Texas, had to apologise after a box full of ammunition was accidentally dropped through the roof of an elementary school. An investigation is currently underway to discover whether the box was accidentally dropped in the wrong place or just fell out.