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Fighter jet goes down near Luke Air Force Base

PHOENIX — An F-16 fighter jet crashed near Luke Air Force Base in suburban Phoenix on Wednesday evening, but both pilots ejected safely, authorities said.

The jet went down just before 7 p.m. in a desert area about 3 miles west of the airfield, said officials at the base.

Both pilots suffered minor injuries, Sgt. Linda Rainey said. Their names weren’t immediately released.

The Glendale Fire Department confirmed the pilots were walking around after the crash and were taken to Luke Air Force Base Hospital for further evaluation.

There was no immediate word on what might have caused the crash, Rainey said.

Witnesses said they heard the jet’s engine sputtering and popping just before the plane went down. Video from a TV helicopter showed plumes of smoke rising from the crash scene.

The plane crashed near Litchfield Road and Northern.

Rural/Metro Fire Department had a fire truck that witnessed the crash, allowing them to respond quickly.

“At 7 o’clock this evening, Rural Metro fire engine 833 was actually outside their fire station and witnessed this plane go over,” Public Information Officer Colin Williams with Rural/Metro Fire Department said. “They actually saw both pilots eject from the aircraft and the aircraft subsequently crashing into the ground. They were able to respond over into the area.”

No local structure damage was reported as a result of the crash.

Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, west of Phoenix, is the world’s largest F-16 training base.

In March 1999, the Air Force temporarily suspended all F-16 fighter flights at Luke after one of the jets crashed in the desert. At the time, it was the fifth such accident at Luke since October 1998.

Associated Press contributed to this report.