CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.–An F-16 Fighting Falcon from Cannon Air Force Base was forced to jettison its external tanks immediately after takeoff when it experienced a serious system malfunction today at approximately 10:35 a.m.
The quick-thinking pilot was able to save the 35-million dollar aircraft by jettisoning the external tanks, maintaining control of the aircraft and safely landing back at Cannon, averting a much greater mishap.
The external tanks, which were destroyed upon impact, landed on private property less than two miles from the base. Cannon first responders secured the site of the jettisoned tanks within minutes and were able to contain and minimize any environmental impacts.
Cannon is working with state and local officials to return the location to its original state.
The incident is currently under investigation.