​US Fighter Jet Hit Afghanistan: Taliban Militants Claim Responsibility For Jet Attack

US Fighter Jet Hit Afghanistan
Author: Kara GilmourBy:
Staff Reporter
Oct, 20, 2015 | 11:51 AM

A US fighter jet was hit in Afghanistan by enemy fire in a rare instance of an advanced plane coming under a Taliban-claimed attack. The multi-million-dollar jet sustained significant damage, forcing it to empty its fuel tanks and munitions before returning to base, according to CNN.

The US fighter attack occurred last Tuesday in the Sayid Karam district of eastern Paktia province, much of which is under control of the Taliban, who have been waging an insurgency against US-led NATO forces and government troops since they were forced from power in 2001. The Afghanistan militant group claimed they had downed the jet in a statement posted on Twitter that evening, but when contacted for comment, the US military initially said it had no “operational reporting to support the Taliban claims”.

Photographs of the site and seen by J Chacko, an open-source military analyst based in London, indicated the jet had lost two drop-tanks (fuel tanks used to extend flight time), an air-to-ground missile, and two other unguided bombs.

US fighter jet hit in Afghanistan, photos of aircraft released.

US fighter jet hit in Afghanistan, photos of aircraft released.

They also show masked militants posing with the US fighter jet that was hit in Afghanistan. When presented with the images, the US military confirmed in a statement late on Saturday.

“On October 13, a US F-16 encountered small arms fire in the Paktia Province of the country. The surface-to-air fire impacted one of the aircraft’s stabilisers and caused damage to one of the munitions. The pilot jettisoned two fuel tanks and three munitions before safely returning to base. The pilot received no injuries and safely returned to base.”

The Taliban have shot down several military helicopters using small-arms fire, but never an F-16 — an advanced jet capable of supersonic speeds and reaching heights of 15,000 metres, which have been deployed in Afghanistan since the beginning of the US-led military in 2001.

Since the 2014 drawdown, the US Air Force has maintained one squadron of F-16s at Bagram Air Base.

Taliban

The latest generation of the F-16 has a price tag of more than $US100 million per jet according to a deal reached with the Iraqi Air Force last year, which included spare parts and a support package.

Tuesday’s incident of a US fighter jet getting hit in Afghanistan underscores the risks foreign forces still face at the hands of the group as Washington extends its military presence in the country beyond 2016. Chacko, as well as two other military analysts, said the aircraft would have had to be flying very close to the ground to be struck by Taliban fire — perhaps as low as a few hundred yards.

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