October 19, 2015 / 5:54 PM / in 4 years

U.S. fighter jet hit by small arms fire in Afghanistan

A member of the ground crew works in the cockpit of a U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jet at Bagram air base, north of Kabul, August 10, 2009. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An American F-16 aircraft was hit by small arms fire while conducting a patrol in Afghanistan last week, U.S. military officials said on Monday.

The jet was flying a routine combat air patrol in Paktia province in eastern Afghanistan on Oct. 13 when it was hit by small arms fire, a U.S. military official said.

The fire hit one of the aircraft’s stabilizers and damaged one of the munitions it was carrying, said a second official, Captain Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the Department of Defense.

“As a precautionary measure it jettisoned two of its fuel tanks (and) three of its munitions before safely returning to the base,” Davis said.

The U.S. military official said the F-16 landed at the Bagram air base, north of Kabul.

U.S. unnamed military officials could not yet say if the Taliban had carried out the attack on the plane. The Islamist militants are fighting a guerilla war seeking to restore their hardline regime 14 years after it was toppled by the 2001 U.S. invasion.

Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Bernard Orr

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