COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Military officials say the two pilots at the controls of the F-16 jets that collided over Georgia are seasoned combat veterans — and so are the jets they were flying.
Built in 1993, officials say the planes have flown in hundreds of combat missions, including the fiery 2003 attack on Baghdad.
South Carolina National Guard officials say the pilots were practicing a high-tech “cat-and-mouse game” of electronic warfare at the time of Tuesday’s crash in preparation for an upcoming deployment.
Guard leader Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston calls it the unit’s specialty.
The warplanes are the first to enter enemy territory, where they seek out and destroy opposing radars and anti-aircraft missile sites to make it safer for other troops and planes to follow them.