(BERLIN) - A U.S. fighter jet on night maneuvers crashed in Germany near Trier, killing the pilot, the military said Thursday.
The F-16 jet can carry a crew of one or two, but the pilot, from the 52nd Fighter Wing, was the only person aboard in the crash Wednesday evening, said Maj. Scott Vadnais, spokesman for the U.S. Air Force Europe.
The plane went down about two miles outside Spangdahlem Air Base, near the Luxembourg border between the towns of Landscheid and Hof Hau, while on routine night maneuvers, said Air Force Staff Sgt. Cindy York, a base spokeswoman.
The Air Force said the plane crashed in an unpopulated, wooded area along a logging road. There were no injuries on the ground.
Early reports were that the pilot had been practicing ``touch-and-go'' maneuvers _ touching down on the runway and immediately taking off again _ but York said she could not confirm that.
``He was flying a normal training mission, we don't know specifically what he was doing,'' York said.
There was light rain and fog at the time, York said. It is not yet clear what caused the crash, and investigators were on the scene.
The name of the pilot, who belonged to the 23rd Fighter Squadron of the 52nd Fighter Wing, was being withheld until next of kin could be notified.
The F-16, a single-engine fighter, is a small and speedy plane with a sharp nose and a single tail fin. It can cruise at 1,500 mph _ twice the speed of sound, or Mach 2 _ and maneuver quickly enough to put nine times the force of gravity on plane and pilot. The $34 million planes can fight other aircraft or launch missiles against targets on the ground.
In the recent offensive in Afghanistan, named Operation Anaconda, the planes were used to strike dug-in enemy positions in the mountainous terrain where U.S. and allied forces were battling al-Qaida and Taliban fighters.