A U.S. Air Force F-16 was struck by ground fire causing damage to one of its horizonal stabilizers during a mission over Afghanistan last Tuesday, according to reports released today. The stricken jet returned to base to make an emergency landing after dropping its external fuel tanks and its air-to-ground munitions as a precaution.
The incident happened while the F-16 was operating over eastern Paktia province, an area that is largely controlled by the Taliban, who claimed to have shot down the jet. No details have been released as to how low the F-16 was flying when it was struck or by what caliber of weapon,
Photos taken of what they say is the F-16’s wreckage, show a pair of crushed drop tanks, two 500lb class Mk 82 warheads and what looks like part of an AGM-65 Maverick missile. No actual aircraft wreckage is shown.
When it comes to American F-16 operations over Afghanistan, this recent mini-documentary is fantastic.
This recent incident is just another reminder of the risk still posed to American forces taking part in the longest war we have ever fought. It also comes after President Obama has announced a freeze on the withdraw of American forces from Afghanistan, as large parts of the country seem to be descending back into the hands of the Taliban.
ISIS militants are said to be present the majority of Afghanistan, an issue that has larger geopolitical implications than the Taliban’s resurgence.
Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.