Contractor pilot dies after Mirage F1 fighter jet crashes outside Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas (VIDEOS)

A private military contractor piloting a fighter jet died in a crash soon after taking off from Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, the Pentagon said, as local, state and federal investigators probe what caused the incident.

The crash took place in a residential area in northeast Las Vegas around 2:30pm on Monday, a spokesperson for Nellis said, while the base later relayed a statement from private contractor Draken US noting that the pilot had died. Their identity has not been released.

“Draken has received news of a downed aircraft out of Nellis AFB and the tragic loss of one of our pilots. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people and families affected by this event,” the company said, adding that it is working closely with agencies on the local, state and federal level to determine what happened.

No other deaths or injuries have been reported, and the military said no other personnel were on board the jet when it went down.

The National Transportation Safety Board, a federal agency tasked with investigating aviation accidents, confirmed that the crash involved a Dassault Aviation Mirage F-1 later on Monday evening.  

Video purporting to show the aftermath of the crash has circulated online, in which a thick cloud of black smoke is seen as first responders arrive at the site.

Several private military contractors operate out of Nellis and partake in “aggressor training” to prepare Air Force pilots for real-life dog fights, according to, which noted the base is also home to the Air Force’s Thunderbirds F-16 demonstration team. The military houses a variety of craft at the base, including F-16 Falcon and F-22 Raptor fighter jets, as well as A-10 Warthogs, local media reported.

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak said he was aware of the incident and that he and his wife are “praying for all those involved” in a tweet on Monday afternoon. He was joined by Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who said she was “thinking of the men and women serving and their families.”

Roads have been blocked around the area of the crash site as local and federal agencies investigate. 

Located in southern Nevada about 8 miles northeast from downtown Las Vegas, Nellis air base, including its restricted ranges, covers some 5,000 square miles and employs 9,500 military and civilian personnel, according to its website. The base is used for “advanced combat aviation training,” including for transport, close-air-support, command-and-control and combat search-and-rescue missions.

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