Pakistan jet fighter crashes at Islamabad during aerobic rehearsals, the pilot dies

A Pakistani fighter jet rehearsing for the nation’s national day parade crashed in Islamabad on Wednesday. 

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) said in a statement that the pilot of the aircraft, Wing Commander Norman Akram, died when the plane crashed near a park in the capital city.

“Pakistan Air Force reports with regret that a PAF F-16 plane crashed near Shakarparian, Islamabad during the March 23 parade rehearsals,” the air force said in their statement. “Rescue teams were deployed toward the crash site.”

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There were no ground-level casualties or property damage, the air force said. The President of Pakistan Afif Alvi expressed condolences to the pilot’s family.

A helicopter hovers over the site of a plane crash in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. Pakistan's air force says one of its fighter jets has crashed in a wooded area near the capital while practicing aerobatic maneuvers. Wednesday's crash was in preparation for National Day celebrations later this month. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

Footage on social media and local television stations showed black smoke rising under overcast skies from a tree-filled region. One video appeared to show the plane coming out of a steep dive before going over a hill, then the jet engine’s roar ends in a thump followed by a fireball.

Wednesday’s crash came ahead of the March 23 National Day celebration which featured short-and long-range missiles, tanks, jets, drones and other military hardware last year.

The American-built F-16 jets are among the Pakistan Military’s most valuable defense hardware, which has a fleet of about 50 such jets worth at least $40 million each, reported Al Jazeera.

A helicopter hovers over the site of a plane crash in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. Pakistan's air force says one of its fighter jets has crashed in a wooded area near the capital while practicing aerobatic maneuvers. Wednesday's crash was in preparation for National Day celebrations later this month. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

Pakistani authorities seldom release details of the relatively common military-training crashes. An FT-7 jet trainer went down in the eastern province of Punjab in January, killing the two pilots.

19 people died last July, most of them at home when a Pakistani military aircraft crashed into a residential area outside the Rawalpindi garrison town.

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