F-4 accidents likely to be pilot error, says Defense Minister
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
AA PhotoThe recent fighter jet crash in central Konya province which killed two Turkish pilots on March 5 was caused by pilot error, Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz said on March 10.
Addressing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) at a group meeting in parliament in Ankara, Yılmaz said the report was not yet complete, but it looked as though the cause was pilot error, in response to a question on the Konya crash.
“The report is not yet complete, [but] the chief of air staff and technical units say it’s a pilot’s error, not a technical error,” said Yılmaz.
Around one-third of all military aircraft accidents are due to pilot error, according to a general assessment of experts, he said, stressing the importance of training to prevent such accidents.
Two pilots died after a Turkish Air Force F-4E crashed in the Central Anatolian province of Konya on the morning of March 5, the second such accident in less than two weeks.
The first accident happened when two F-4 jets crashed during a training exercise on Feb. 24 in the Eastern Anatolian province of Malatya, resulting in the death of four pilots on board.
The Turkish General Staff had said in a written statement that the two fighter jets did not collide in mid-air, but rather the accident happened because they were flying at a lower altitude than the safe level fixed for the area according to the initial examinations, adding the two military RF-4E planes were under no external influence.
There has been criticism over the continued use of F-4 jets in the Turkish air force, but the minister rejected such talk. “We will continue to use F-4s until 2020,” Yılmaz said.
On Jan. 8, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had said, “We will have four more next-generation F-35 fighters, of which two have already been ordered, and Turkey is planning to acquire 100 F-35 fighters through 2030. The Turkish air force will be modernized with the most advanced next generation aircraft, the Lockheed F-35.”
Turkey placed an order for the first two F-35 jets for the projected fleet of 100 F-35A aircraft on May 5 last year, and plans to deploy the aircraft by 2019.
The F-35s will replace the ageing fleet of F-4 and F-16 aircraft. On Dec.12 of last year, the Pentagon said Italy and Turkey would provide initial heavy maintenance of the F-35 fighter jet and its engine in Europe from 2018.