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F-16CM ACCIDENT REPORT RELEASED

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (AFNS) -- An Accident Investigation Board found that an F-16CM Fighting Falcon suffered an engine hardware malfunction resulting in its crash into a rural area in the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility on March 29.

The pilot sustained only minor injuries and has been released back to full duty status. Owners of a field of crops damaged in the mishap, were compensated for their losses. There were no other injuries or damages to other government or private property as a result of the crash.

The mishap occurred on an alert scramble two-ship night flight.

The AIB president identified a hardware malfunction in the engine as the cause of the aircraft mishap.

According to the investigation report, the material failure of at least one turbine blade rendered the engine incapable of providing the necessary thrust to maintain continued flight, which triggered an unrecoverable stall. Evaluation of the recovered engine by structural materials evaluation teams, engine overhaul experts and aerospace engineers concluded that the failure was caused by a turbine blade breaking loose, which subsequently damaged the other blades within the engine.

The aircraft and crew were assigned to the 421st Fighter Squadron of the 388th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

The total loss to the U.S. Government is estimated at $29.07 million.