This story was updated at 4:21 p.m. EST on March 23.
An F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet crashed in western Louisiana midday Wednesday, a state police spokesperson has confirmed to Air Force Times.
The Oklahoma Air National Guard jet went down in an uninhabited, wooded area of Beauregard Parish, near the Louisiana-Texas border south of Fort Polk. Its pilot safely ejected and was taken to the Army base, Louisiana State Police Trooper First Class Derek Senegal said.
The area’s terrain was making it difficult for law enforcement to reach the crash site, he added. Troops from Fort Polk and Barksdale Air Force Base, about 125 miles north in Shreveport, are handling the recovery and investigation.
The F-16 belongs to a Houston-based detachment of Oklahoma’s 138th Fighter Wing, which manages the planes at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, spokesperson Capt. Jennifer Proctor said Wednesday. The jet was about 150 miles east in Louisiana to train in military airspace that is set back from populated areas.
As part of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, Oklahoma airmen in Houston protect U.S. airspace along the Gulf of Mexico and as far west as Arizona. They train at Tulsa Air National Guard Base before heading south to Ellington Field.
Earlier reporting from the scene erroneously indicated the plane was owned by the Texas Air National Guard.
The Air Force suffered three F-16 mishaps in fiscal 2021, including one that destroyed the airplane and killed its pilot, according to the Air Force Safety Center. About three Fighting Falcons have been totaled each year on average for the past decade.
The service owns about 900 F-16C/D airframes, which have flown since the 1980s. Each jet cost $19 million in 1998 dollars, the Air Force said, or more than $30 million now.
This is an evolving story. Stay with Air Force Times for more details.
Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.