The search for an F-16 pilot whose jet crashed Tuesday near Caliente during a combat exercise continued Wednesday, with Nellis Air Force Base officials dispatching another helicopter to the remote area 150 miles north of Las Vegas.
In all, three helicopters have been sent on search-and-rescue missions since 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, when the F-16C Fighting Falcon went down during a "dogfight."
The crash site is on rugged terrain owned by the Bureau of Land Management, about 20 miles west of Caliente in Lincoln County.
It is outside the boundaries of the Nevada Test and Training Range and about eight miles from the nearest road.
"What we are looking for now is the parachute and the pilot," Brig. Gen. T.J. O'Shaughnessy, commander of the 57th Wing at Nellis Air Force Base, said during a news conference late Tuesday night.
The pilot was the only person in the aircraft.
The jet was not armed with live weaponry when it crashed and did not have an active locating device, O'Shaughnessy said.
He described the exercise that preceded the crash as a "dogfight" between two aircraft.
Late Wednesday, Nellis spokesman Chuck Ramey confirmed that F-16Cs are normally equipped with an ejection seat that has a built-in emergency locator transponder, as described in an Air Force fact sheet.
However, Ramey said, officials involved in the search have not detected a signal in the vicinity of the crash area.
Ramey said the exercise took place within the range's 12,000 square miles of airspace, which includes 5,000 square miles over public land.
He said that the pilot's status late Wednesday was "missing" and that there will be no more updates until it changes.
He said the pilots involved were on a training mission.
A source familiar with the exercises said the canyon area where fighter pilots fly simulated combat missions has many rugged ravines, which would make it difficult to find a pilot if his parachute didn't open.
The source, who spoke on condition he not be named, described the exercise as "dissimilar air combat tactics," a type of training that, in this case, pits different types of fighter jets against each other.
A safety investigation board will collect evidence and try to determine the cause of the crash during the next several weeks.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon flies at a maximum speed of about 1,500 mph.
It is a fighter jet used by multiple Air Force squadrons, including the Thunderbirds air demonstration team, which is based at Nellis.
More than 4,400 F-16s have been manufactured since 1976.
The F-16C and F-16D models cost about $19 million each. The C and D models were built in the 1980s, and there are now about 1,280 in the U.S. inventory, according to an Air Force fact sheet.
The last fatal crash during a combat exercise over the Nellis range complex occurred July 30, 2008, when Lt. Col. Thomas A. Bouley was killed when his F-15D Eagle fighter jet went down.
Contact Keith Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0308.