ROME, January 29 (RIA Novosti) – A search in underway for a US F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet that has gone missing on a training flight off the coast of Italy, the ANSA news agency reported.
The headquarters of the US 31st Fighter Wing, stationed at Aviano Air Base in Italy, lost contact with the aircraft at about 20:00 local time [21:00 GMT] on Monday, shortly after the pilot reported a problem, ANSA said.
The US aircraft from Aviano as well as units of Italian Coast Guard and Air Force are involved in the search-and-rescue effort off the coast of the Ravenna province in the northwestern part of the Adriatic Sea.
The plane did not carry weaponry on board during the mission, according to a brief statement by the US Air Force issued on Monday.
Experts believe that the aircraft has crashed in the Adriatic but the pilot could have survived.
The average age of the F-16s, which are considered the workhorse of the US fighter fleet, is 22 to 24 years.
Over 4,500 aircraft have been built since production was approved in 1976.