According to the US Air Force, a French-made Mirage F1 fighter jet crashed in a non-residential area of Arizona today.
Local police, firefighters as well as explosive ordnance disposal experts responded to the scene of the crash, suggesting that the fighter may have been armed.
The French-built fighter and attack plane designed by Dassault Aviation was owned by the Virginia-based government contractor Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC). Its representatives confirmed that the jet was destroyed in the crash.
The crash happened around 11 am local time, about 15 miles away from the Luke Air Force Base – home of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) – west of Phoenix, Arizona.
The plane’s pilot, a private military contractor, suffered minor injuries while ejecting from the aircraft as it went down.
“I’m grateful nobody was hurt on the ground and the pilot was safely recovered with only minor injuries,” Brigadier-General Gregory Kreuder said in a statement about the incident.
The Mirage F1 fighter jet was retired from French service in 2014, but some US military contractors use it for the rule of the “aggressor squadron” opponent to US Air Force pilots in training exercises.
Today’s Arizona mishap is the second Mirage F1 crash in the western US in less than a year. Last May, a pilot for the Texas-based military contractor Draken US died after his plane crashed in a residential area in northeast Las Vegas, Nevada. Draken subsequently grounded its Mirage F1 fleet for three months to investigate the incident. The flights eventually resumed in August.