A F-16 fighter jet crashed during a training flight on Monday evening in southeastern Turkey, raising concerns over the model, which has been involved in a number of crashes in recent years. This is the seventh crash by a F-16 since 2009 and though the conclusions of the formal inquiries into all the crashes are not available, most are tied to technical malfunctions. Turkey has lost 35 F-16 aircrafts since 1991, according to an aviation website, while prosecutors claim some plane crashes are linked to unskilled crews with ties to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
The unidentified pilot, a first lieutenant, took off from a military base in the province of Diyarbakır. As the pilot was approaching the base during the flight, it crashed for an unknown reason while the pilot managed to eject to safety. Officials said the fighter jet was not weaponized and initial findings showed it crashed due to a malfunction. An investigation is underway into the crash.
Prosecutors looking into the infiltration of FETÖ in the army believe pilots and flight training staff linked to the terror cult might have played a role in nine warplane crashes in the past two years. A report included in a draft indictment by prosecutors in the capital Ankara conducting a probe into the cult's activities said the terrorist group, which infiltrated the army, bureaucracy, judiciary, law enforcement and others, installed supporters in the air force, and most of them were inexperienced and unskilled. The report, quoted by Turkish media outlets, states a new inquiry into the crashes is needed, advising the Presidency's State Inspection Board to launch new investigations. The FETÖ indictment says expert reports on crashes of four F-4 and six F-16 warplanes, which killed seven pilots, showed they stemmed from inexperienced pilots and aircraft maintenance crews, a lack of maintenance, administrative errors and a lack of inspections.
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