WASHINGTON — An American F-16 took fire over Afghanistan last Tuesday, forcing the pilot to make an unscheduled landing.
The Pentagon did not disclose the incident until media reports emerged.
According to Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis, the plane was hit by small-arms fire, damaging one of the plane’s stabilizers. That forced the pilot to jettison two external fuel tanks and three pieces of munitions before landing safely.
A statement from the U.S.-led NATO coalition later on Monday said the F-16 “encountered fire in the Paktia Province in Afghanistan, which hit one of the aircraft’s stabilizers and damaged one of the munitions.”
The pilot, U.S. Air Force Capt. Susan Harrington said in the statement, returned the plane safely back to Bagram Airfield, where he landed unharmed.
“Our pilots routinely face threats from the ground, however they are well-trained and prepared to respond to any threat or attack,” she said.
She added that until an investigation on the incident has been completed, the military would not know what type of weapons were used.
A Pentagon official, though, said that the presumption is that it was small arms because if it were a missile, the plane likely would have gone down.