The Iraqi defense ministry has identified the missing pilot of an Iraqi F-16 that crashed in Arizona as Brig. Gen. Rafid Mohammed Sidq.
Rescuers are still trying to locate Sidq, who was flying an F-16 with the Arizona National Guard's 162nd Wing, said Brig. Gen. Tahseen Ibrahim, a spokesman for the Iraqi defense ministry.
The Iraqi government is waiting to hear from the Pentagon what the latest results of search efforts are, Ibrahim told Air Force Times on Thursday.
The website F-16.net first reported on Thursday that the F-16 that crashed was flown by an Iraqi pilot.
"The Ministry of Defense has issued a brief statement in Arabic confirming that an Iraqi F-16 crashed in Arizona and that the fate of the pilot is still being ascertained," said Ali Al-Mawlawi, a spokesman for the Iraqi embassy in Washington, D.C.
The embassy expects to release further information later on Thursday, Al-Mawlawi said in an email to Air Force Times.
The first two of the 36 F-16s that the Iraqi government purchased arrived in December at Tucson International Airport, Arizona, where Iraqi pilots are training. Until then, the Iraqi pilots had been training on American-owned F-16s.
In April, the first of 36 Iraqi pilots in the F-16 training pipeline graduated from Flight Lead Upgrade training, and a second pilot was expected to graduate FLUG in May, officials said at the time.
The first two Iraqi pilots were expected to need at least 18 to 24 months preparing for instructor pilot training, but in April, the head of the Iraqi air force said he expected the first Iraqi F-16s and pilots to arrive in his country July 12, the Associated Press reported.
A State Department official could not confirm the July 12 delivery date, telling Air Force Times in April that the U.S. government was working to deliver the Iraqi F-16s by early summer.