KARLSRUHE, West Germany -- The fatal collision of two U.S. F-16 Falcon jet fighters and the crash of a third have renewed complaints over the frequency of air maneuvers by the Western military alliance in West Germany.
A U.S. Air Force spokesman said two single-engine F-16 aircraft engaged in a simulated dogfight collided and crashed Wednesday in Bodenheim, about 30 miles west of Frankfurt, in the central western part of the country.
A spokesman for the Interior Ministry in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, where the crash occurred, said one of the pilots was killed and the other injured. Their identities were not immediately disclosed.
The two F-16s belonged to the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing of Hahn Air Base.
The third Falcon, taking part in a nine-nation air maneuver of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that began June 21, crashed in woods in the southwestern part of the country near Baden-Baden, 50 miles east of Stuttgart, the U.S. spokesman said.
The spokesman said the pilot ejected safely and was taken to a U.S. Air Force hospital for observation.
A witness told the Baden-Baden radio station the aircraft was participating in a simulated dogfight about 500 feet in the air when it crashed.
The plane belonged to the 52nd Tactical Fighter Wing assigned to Soangdahlem Air Base and was taking part in maneuvers to test the cooperation on the ground and air of the various air forces.
The accidents Wednesday triggered fresh complaints over the number of air manuevers by NATO allied aircraft and crashes in a country about the size of Oregon. The accidents renewed demands for a ban on low-altitude military flights.
The incidents raised the number of U.S. F-16 crashes to 21 since the planes arrived in Europe in December 1981. Fourteen of the crashes occurred in West Germany. The F-16 Falcon entered service with the U.S. Air Force in 1979.
Nineteen military aircraft of the United States, Britain, France and West Germany have crashed in West Germany during the past three months.
The left-wing opposition Greens party demanded that all low-level flights be banned over populated areas of West Germany.
Rudi Geil, the Christian Democratic interior minister in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, demanded in a letter that the U.S. Air Force tell 'a concerned public' the reasons for the plane crashes.
In response to public criticism following the previous crash of a U.S. F-16 April 18, Defense Minister Manfred Woerner asked the Air Force to halt F-16 flights temporarily if they had any technical faults.
Gen. William L. Kirk, commander of the U.S. Air Force in Europe, however, defended the F-16 as the safest single-engine fighter aircraft in Air Force history.