SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The Air Force is not saying if a military tanker refueling plane that crashed Friday in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan is from Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane.
A Fairchild spokesman said the KC-135 with three crew members aboard is assigned to a base called the Transit Center at Manas in that Central Asian country. Many Fairchild planes and air crews operate out of the Transit Center at Manas, in support of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
There was no immediate word on the fate of the crew, who are listed as missing.
Fairchild spokesman Sgt. Eugene Taylor said once the air crew is located, their identities will be withheld for 24 hours to inform next of kin.
Fairchild is home of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, and is one of several U.S. bases where KC-135s are located.
The crashed plane had wing markings indicating it may have been based at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kan., but Taylor could not confirm if that was the case. Even if the plane was from McConnell, the crew could be from another base.
The KC-135 is used for midair refueling of other planes.
The plane crashed at 2:55 p.m. near Chaldovar, a village 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of the U.S. Transit Center at Manas base outside the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.
The plane was on a refueling mission for Afghanistan war operations at the time of the crash, a U.S. defense official in Washington said, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss the details of an ongoing investigation.
The front section of the aircraft has not yet been found, Kyrgyz Emergencies Minister Kubatbek Boronov told The Associated Press. He said searchers also have not found the flight recorders from the plane.
The search for the crew will resume Saturday morning and the crash site will remain under guard, Boronov said.