The accident took place near a major air base. The Turkish Air Force is one of the largest and best equipped in the NATO alliance.
The Turkish Defense Ministry confirmed that a Northrop NF-5 crashed in Konya province in south-central Turkey and the pilot of the plane was killed.
The ministry said the crash occurred at 2:15 p.m. local time, its cause was unknown and an investigation was initiated.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has addressed Telegram to offer condolences for the accident, asking God to have mercy on the souls of Turkish martyrs. “I offer my condolences to his family, loved ones, the Turkish armed forces and the nation,” he wrote.
The crashed jet belonged to the Turkish Stars aerobatic team deployed to 3rd Main Base Konya. Local media claim the crash happened during a routine training flight. Earlier reports (since rejected) suggested the aircraft involved may have been an F-16.
Photos from the scene, which have not been authenticated, show smoke rising in an empty field.
Television footage shows security and medical teams recording an area, with several ambulances and military vehicles, at least one fire engine and a helicopter at the scene.
The mayor of Konya, Uur brahim Altay, confirmed the information about the accident and that search and rescue units were arriving at the scene. “Our prayer is that there is no loss of life,” he tweeted ahead of the Defense Ministry’s announcement that the pilot had died.
The Northrop F-5 is a former supersonic fighter produced by the US defense giant Northrop Corporation (now Northrop Grumman) between 1959 and 1987. Turkey has purchased more than 200 aircraft in their F-fA / B and NF-5A configurations -B of the United States and other countries during the Cold War. About 50 of the jets were upgraded in the 2000s, including 10 F-5As and two F-5Bs used by the Turkish Stars aerobatic team.
Konya Air Base serves as the Air Force’s main operational training base and is also known to contain airborne early warning assets and F-16 aircraft. The base regularly hosts Turkish and other NATO forces for Anatolian Eagle exercises. Israel has participated in the exercises for many years, but was not invited to participate after the Gaza war of late 2008-2009. Chinese, Pakistani, Saudi, Jordanian, Emirati and Qatari forces have also participated in exercises at the base over the years.
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