An investigation is underway to determine what caused a US military aircraft to crash in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province Monday, a spokesperson for US Forces in Afghanistan confirmed, adding that there is “no indication” the plane was downed by enemy fire.
“A U.S. Bombardier E-11A crashed today in Ghazni province, Afghanistan. While the cause of crash is under investigation, there are no indications the crash was caused by enemy fire. We will provide additional information as it becomes available,” Col. Sonny Leggett said in a tweet.
“Taliban claims that additional aircraft have crashed are false,” he added.
CNN reported earlier Monday that the US military was investigating reports of a plane crash in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, according to a US official.
The official could not add any further details.
Multiple reports had emerged of a plane crash in the region, which is largely controlled by the Taliban and lies to the southwest of the Afghan capital of Kabul.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Monday he is “aware of the situation” but would not elaborate with any more details, saying “he has nothing further to report at this time.” Esper assured that the Pentagon will update the media when the “matter develops.”
The E-11A is used to link troops in the field to headquarters and has been previously described by Air Force pilots as “WiFi in the sky.”
It operates as part of the Air Force’s Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN), which was developed in direct response to communication shortfalls during Operation Red Wings, a joint US military mission in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, in 2005, according to a press release published by the service in 2018.
“Due to Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain and lack of existing communication infrastructure, serious communication challenges prevented the four-man SEAL patrol from effectively establishing contact with their combat operations center, leaving them vulnerable to the attacks that claimed the lives of 19 special operations forces service members,” it said.
Between 12,000 and 13,000 US troops are currently serving in Afghanistan as part of a US-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces.
There have been more than 2,400 deaths of US service members since the start of America’s longest war in 2001. Last year was the deadliest in five years for the US in Afghanistan, with 23 service members killed during operations in the country in 2019.