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Air Force Tanker Crashes in Kyrgyzstan, Crew Status ‘Unknown’

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A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-16 Fighting Falcon over the Pacific Ocean in 2012. US Air Force Photo

A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-16 Fighting Falcon over the Pacific Ocean in 2012. US Air Force Photo

An U.S. Air Force refueling tanker has crashed in the northern region of Kyrgyzstan has crashed, according to a Friday release from the Pentagon.

The KC-135 Stratotanker went down about 100 miles west of the U.S. Transit Center at Manas, a U.S. installation that has supported the U.S. air war in Afghanistan since 2001.

“Emergency response crews are on the scene, and the crew’s status is unknown,” officials from the Air Force’s 376th Air Expeditionary Wing said.

Bolot Sharshenaliev with the Kyrgyz Emergencies Ministry told CNN three people were onboard the plane.

Kyrgyzstan state media reported crash debris was scattered over a half-mile radius near the village of Chaldovar.

The Associated Press reported witnesses seeing the plane explode in mid-air.

“I was working with my father in the field, and I heard an explosion. When I looked up at the sky I saw the fire. When it was falling, the plane split into three pieces,” Sherikbek Turusbekov told the AP.

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Jantoro Satybaldiev said witnesses, “saw an explosion and the plane was broken in half,” according to the CNN report.

The accident is currently under investigation.

The KC-135 has been in service since the late 1950s and is among the oldest U.S. Air Force airframes currently in service.


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