COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A Swedish Air Force jet fighter crashed Tuesday near an air base in southern Sweden after striking several birds as it was about to land, Sweden’s Armed Forces said.
The pilot of the Swedish-built JAS 39 Gripen fighter aborted the landing he was attempting and ejected, said Col. Lars Bergstrom, head of the Blekinge Air Force Wing near Ronneby in southern Sweden.
“The pilot is in good spirits and is doing fine,” Bergstrom told a news conference, adding he was taken to a nearby hospital for checks. “We could see the whole thing from the control tower.”
The collision occurred at about 9.45 a.m. (0745 GMT) north of Ronneby, near Karlskrona — 160 kilometers (99 miles) east of Malmo, Sweden’s third largest city.
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Sweden’s Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist told Sweden’s news agency TT that “the pilot did exactly what one has to do in this kind of situation.”
The Swedish Accident Investigation Authority will investigate the crash of the single-engine multirole aircraft built by Swedish aerospace group Saab.
Sweden has sold the aircraft to the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Thailand, among others.
Last year, a Thai air force pilot died when his JAS 39 Gripen jet crashed at an air show in southern Thailand after suddenly losing altitude and crashed in a ball of fire.
In 1993 a JAS jet fighter went down in central Stockholm near a crowded bridge during an air show. The pilot ejected to safety and eight spectators received minor injuries. It later was established that a computer flaw was to be blamed.