F-18 fighter crashes at Zaragoza air base after successful pilot escape

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BARCELONA (AFP) An F-18 fighter plane crashed at an air force base in the Spanish city of Zaragoza, but the pilot managed to escape, the Spanish Defense Ministry said on Saturday.

The Pentagon announced on Twitter that the plane had landed near the base.

The base is located about 10 miles from the city and is owned by the Spanish Aerospace Forces.

Videos posted on social media showed the plane bursting into flames and crashing to the ground.

The Air Force said the pilot was already in the hospital and his life was not in danger. The Spanish news agency EFE reported that at the time of the incident, the F-18 was in training for a flight demonstration.

The Guardia Civil told the Associated Press that one of the patrols was the first to reach the pilot who had fallen outside the perimeter fence surrounding the air force base.

Private security said the pilot suffered a leg injury after being thrown from a low altitude by a parachute. He was taken to hospital by helicopter.

Guardia Civil said it would work with the military to investigate the crash. According to the pilot, there was clearly a problem with the aircraft.

His US-made F-18 Hornet has been in service as part of US air defenses since the 1980s and has been purchased by several allied air forces.

The Spanish Air Force acquired its first 72 McDonnell Douglas F-18 models in 1983. The fighter was known for its versatility and entered service three years later. The Spanish Air Force has since purchased an unspecified number of his other F-18s. Spanish F-18 units are based at the Zaragoza base.

Spain’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to questions from the Associated Press about the incident.