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Crash leads Air Force to ground jets

WICHITA FALLS, Texas — The Air Force grounded all T-38C training jets Thursday after the second fatal crash involving the aircraft in eight days, the military said.

Two pilots died when their high-altitude, supersonic aircraft went down during a routine training mission, according to a statement from Sheppard Air Force Base.

The two-seat plane was assigned to the 80th Flying Training Wing, a multinational organization that produces future combat pilots for NATO.

The names of the airmen were not immediately released.

The crash follows the deaths of two pilots whose training jet crashed April 23 at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi. "At this point we have no indication that there was any tie between the two," said Capt. John Severns, chief of media relations for Air Education Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base, near San Antonio, Texas.

The Air Force suspended all T-38 flights, pending the investigations into what caused the two aircraft to go down. The jets are used to prepare student pilots to fly fighters and bombers. The Air Force has about 500 of the aircraft in its inventory.

First deployed in 1959, the jet has been linked to 138 fatalities and 189 crashes, according to the Air Force Safety Center.

Of 16 fatalities related to crashes at Sheppard Air Force Base since 1967, all but six involved T-38s.

Crash leads Air Force to ground jets 05/01/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 1:29pm]
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