Emirates fighter plane crashes, kills pilot
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A United Arab Emirates fighter plane crashed during a training mission, killing the pilot, the state news agency said Wednesday.
The plane went down Tuesday evening, according to a statement by the General Command of the UAE Armed Forces. The pilot was identified as First Lt. Suhail Mubarak Abdullah al-Dhaheri.
A military spokesman reached by The Associated Press was unable to provide additional information.
It was the second crash involving an Emirati fighter plane in less than three months. On April 27, an Emirati pilot ejected safely in Italy when his F-16 veered off the runway. The military said that plane sustained minor structural damage.
The UAE has rapidly expanded its air force in recent years, in part to protect itself from larger neighbor Iran. The fighter fleet consists of American-made F-16 and French-built Mirage jets.
The Gulf nation is increasingly using its military assets to project power beyond the Gulf. The UAE agreed in late March to send 12 warplanes — six F-16s and six Mirage fighters — to help enforce the no-fly zone over Libya. It was the second Arab country after Qatar to contribute aircraft to the effort.
Emirati aircraft also were used to deliver supplies to flood victims in Pakistan.