SAFFORD, Ariz. - An Iraqi student pilot is dead, officials with the Arizona Air National Guard said, after an F-16 crashed about near Safford Tuesday.

According to officials, the pilot was conducting an F-16 training mission with the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Wing in Tucson when the plane went down around 3 p.m. about 20 miles northwest of Safford.

The United States Air Force is currently training Iraqi pilots to fly F-16 fighters at the request of their government, and the crashed plane belonged to the Iraqi Air Force, officials said.

Officials said these pilots are "vital to their country's defense."

No word on what caused the crash.

The Air Force is investigating.