F-16 Fighting Falcon

An F-16 Fighting Falcon, assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron, takes off in support of exercise Valiant Shield on Eielson Air Force Base on Sept. 8, 2020. 

A pair of F-16 fighter jets assigned to the 354th Fighter Wing at Eielson Air Force Base were diverted to the Bethel Airport after an exercise Tuesday when one of the jets began experiencing engine difficulties. 

The two jets had been performing an exercise in the Indo-Pacific theater and were on the return back to Eielson when one pilot began experiencing engine problems. 

The two jets landed without complication at the Bethel Airport around 9 p.m.

Bethel Airport Manager LJ Davis told the Daily News-Miner Wednesday the landing was "uneventful" and both pilots were uninjured upon landing. 

The airport followed protocol in rolling out a number of firetrucks onto the runway which were ultimately deemed unnecessary when both jets landed and taxied off the main runway without incident. 

"They landed here safely and both are parked here now with one waiting on maintenance," David said Wednesday afternoon. 

Maintenance crews were expected to begin working on the damaged jet Wednesday evening. 

“We’re very thankful to the Bethel community for all the support they’re providing to our two F-16 pilots, especially from the local law enforcement and airport teams,” said Col. David Berkland, 354th FW commander. “As usual, our Alaska communities have our back and help us accomplish our mission every day.”

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.