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2 dead after US Air Force jet crashes in Alabama

A Japanese air force officer and a US Air Force instructor pilot were killed in a crash in Alabama, Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force said on Saturday.

The Japanese second lieutenant and the US instructor crashed around 8 a.m. Japan time on Saturday as their T-38 was about to land at the Montgomery airport, the Japanese force said in a statement.

The lieutenant was learning maneuvering and other US Air Force curriculum skills to become a fighter pilot, said Japanese public broadcaster NHK, citing defense ministry sources. US Air Force pilots routinely help train allied pilots in the T-38.

The statement, which did not name the two service members, said the accident is under investigation.

Over 72,000 US Air Force pilots have flown in the T-38 since its inception in the 1960s. It is primarily used to train new pilots, according to its manufacturer, Northrop Grumman. More than 500 T-38s are still in operation with the US Air Force and NASA.

The aircraft, which some have criticized for being unsafe and outdated, is scheduled to be replaced with the Boeing T-7 Red Hawk starting in 2023.

On Thursday, a separate US Air Force T-38 from Beale Air Force Base in California had trouble with its landing gear while landing, according to Military.com. No injuries were reported at the time.

Yuka Obayashi contributed reporting from Reuters.

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