KABUL: Military officials have confirmed that a United States US F-16 was struck by the enemy fire in Eastern Afghanistan in a rare instance where an advanced fighter jet came under attack by the insurgents.
The officials said that, “The $100 million jet sustained significant damage which forced it to jettison its fuel tanks and munitions before returning to base.”
Last Tuesday, the attack occurred in the Sayid Karam district of the Eastern Paktia province much of which is under the control of Taliban.
While saying that they had downed an enemy jet, the group has posted a statement on Twitter.
Several helicopters have been shot by the Taliban’s using the small arms fire against the US led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces and the government troops since their insurgency which began in the year 2001 but never a fighter capable of supersonic speeds and reaching a height of 50,000 feet.
The risks of foreign forces have been underscored and still facing at the hands of the group as Washington extend its military presence beyond 2016 in the country
“it had no operational reporting to support the Taliban claims”, the US military initially said.
“On October 13, a US F-16 encountered small arms fire in the Paktia Province in Afghanistan,” the US military confirmed in a statement to the AFP.
“The pilot jettisoned two fuel tanks and three munitions before safely returning to base. The pilot received no injuries and safely returned to base.”
The surface to air fire impacted on the aircraft stabilizers and caused the damage to one of the munitions.
Chacko said that, “the jet would have had to be flying very low to the ground to be struck by Taliban fire — perhaps as low as a few hundred feet.”
“Neither US nor Afghan forces had been conducting any operation in the area at the time which have necessitated the use of air cover,” Niaz Mohammad Khalil the district governor of Sayid Karam told the AFP.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on twitter that, “Our Mujahedeen have shot down a four-engine US aircraft in Jalalabad.”
“Based on credible information 15 invading forces and a number of puppet troops were killed.”
Taliban’s have recently advised that, “In Kunduz and neighboring Takhar and Baghlan provinces highlight that a large and strategic patch of northern Afghanistan is imperiled by a rapidly expanding insurgency.”
The stunning fall of the provincial capital though temporary but showcased the stubborn insurgency’s potential to expand beyond its rural strongholds in the southern part of the country. Since the 2001, US led invasion of Afghanistan, the crash comes with the Afghan forces battling a Taliban insurgency that has brightened the overall country.