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MILITARY

US fighter jet crashes in western Germany

An American F-16 fighter jet crashed Tuesday near the city of Trier in western Germany, with the pilot surviving after using the ejector seat.

US fighter jet crashes in western Germany
Archive picture shows an American fighter jet similar to the one that crashed on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

After multiple emergency calls around 3:15 pm local time, emergency services reached the scene near the village of Zemmer, police said in a statement.

The airman was taken to hospital. Police said it was not immediately clear how seriously he was injured in the crash.

Authorities blocked off a large zone around the crash site including several roads, the police statement added, urging drivers to avoid the area.

A spokesman for the nearby US military airbase at Spangdahlem told AFP he had no further information about the crash, its causes or the health of the pilot.

Germany is no stranger to military aircraft crashes, including in its own shortage-plagued Bundeswehr armed forces.

In June this year, two of the air force's Eurofighter jets crashed after colliding in mid-air in northeastern Germany.

One of the pilots was killed, while the other ejected to safety.

Less than a week later, a helicopter pilot died when his aircraft crashed near an army training centre.

The last American military crash in Germany dates back to 2015, when one of the Spangdahlem base's F-16 fighters went down in northern Bavaria.

In that incident, the pilot survived after ejecting from the plane.

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MILITARY

US Congress moves to block Trump’s withdrawal of troops from Germany

US lawmakers have announced a bill that would delay the withdrawal of US troops until after President Donald Trump has left office, thus opening a door to a reversal of a decision announced by Trump in the summer.

US Congress moves to block Trump's withdrawal of troops from Germany
A US soldier in Grafenwöhr, Bavaria. Photo: DPA

The National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), which still needs to pass through the US Congress, specifies that a troop withdrawal can only happen 120 days after the defence secretary presents a report to Congress analysing whether the troop withdrawal is in the US national interest.

In June, President Trump announced plans to withdraw close to 12,000 of the 36,000 US troops based in Germany, citing Berlin’s failure to meet its NATO spending commitments.

As Trump is to leave office on January 20th, to be replaced by Democrat Joe Biden, the bill casts doubt on the entire troop withdrawal.

READ ALSO: Trump 'to withdraw thousands of US soldiers from Germany by end of 2020'

Trump still has the chance to veto the bill, something he indicated that he would do on Wednesday, although the objections he cited in a Twitter post did not reference the block on his troop withdrawal plans. A two thirds majority in Congress could then overturn his veto.

Trump's plans met with criticism from the US military top brass, as well as from his own Republican party. In Congress, both Democrats and Trump's Republicans announced their opposition to the plans.

The bill now states that Congress continues to value Germany as a strong NATO partner. The presence of the “approximately 34,500 members of the U.S. armed forces stationed in Germany” serves as an important deterrent against Russia's expansionist ambitions in Europe, it states. 

The bill further states that the U.S. troops in Germany are of central importance for supporting U.S. missions in the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan.

A few weeks after Trump's announcement, the now dismissed US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper made it clear that the plans were to be implemented “as quickly as possible”. As yet though, there has been no troop reduction.

A good half of the 12,000 soldiers were to be recalled to the USA, while 5,600 were to be transferred to other NATO countries.

Three locations in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate would be particularly hard hit by the plans: Stuttgart, Vilseck and Spangdahlem.

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