The US military has acknowledged that an F-16 fighter jet belonging to US Air Force was recently brought down by Taliban militants’ fire in the troubled eastern Afghanistan.
The US military confirmed that the attack occurred last Tuesday in the Sayid Karam district of the eastern Paktia province, a stronghold of Taliban militants.
The US military also admitted that $100 million worth jet sustained significant damage during the attack before returning to a base.
"On October 13, a US F-16 encountered small arms fire in the Paktia Province in Afghanistan. The surface to air fire impacted one of the aircraft's stabilizers and caused damage to one of the munitions, it said in a statement, adding, "The pilot jettisoned two fuel tanks and three munitions before safely returning to base. The pilot received no injuries and safely returned to base."
Meanwhile, Niaz Mohammad Khalil, district governor of Sayid Karam, said the "jet was flying very low" when it came under fire.
The Taliban militant group had claimed downing the jet.
The US military had initially said it had no "operational reporting to support the Taliban claims".
F-16 fighter jets have been deployed in Afghanistan since the beginning of the US-led military in 2001. The US Air Force has maintained one squadron of F-16s at Bagram Air Base since the 2014 partial drawdown.
Taliban militants have stepped up attacks against US-led forces in Afghanistan, targeting NATO helicopters and drones. This is while the Taliban claim their militants have shot down several aircraft and NATO choppers in different parts of Afghanistan over the past few months.
The recent brief seizure of the Afghan city of Kunduz by the Taliban served to show the extent to which the Taliban have expanded their reach in Afghanistan as the city was previously Taliban violence-free.
Afghanistan is gripped by insecurity nearly 14 years after the United States and its allies attacked the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror.
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