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Narrative: A privately owned jet contracted by the military to play the enemy in training exercises crashed Friday in a Southern California farm field, killing the civilian pilot, authorities said.
The downed plane was a Hawker Hunter, a single-seat fighter/ground attack monoplane. It crashed about 12:15 p.m. in a field off Broome Ranch Road between CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo and Point Mugu.
The Hawker Hunter jet belonged to Airborne Tactical Advantage Co., a contractor for Naval Base Ventura County, said Navy spokesman Vance Vasquez. The company's website says it operates the Mk-58 Hawker Hunter.
Matt Bannon, spokesman for Airborne Tactical, would not release the name of the pilot until the family had been reached. County coroner officials were still at the scene late this afternoon.
The Virginia-based company helps conduct tactical exercises at Point Mugu, officials said. "These are ex-military planes that are used as adversary support ... they play the 'bad guys' during exercises," Vasquez said.
The plane was returning to Point Mugu with another Airborne Tactical Hawker when it crashed about 1.5 miles from the base, Vasquez said.
Sergio Mendoza, 23, was working in a celery field when he saw the two planes flying together. Mendoza said he saw one jet catch on fire and start breaking apart midair before he lost sight of the plane going down.
A/C history: Delivered 1959 to Swiss AF from Hawker a/c Ltd (J-4076), 1995 to Aeromech Intl Res Ltd UK (G-HONE), 1996 to Västgöta Veteranflygfören SE (SE-DXE) owner Aeromech, 2004 to Northern Lights Combat Air Sup C (C-GIVT), 2006 Hunter Aviation Intl (N321AX ), 2008 to ATAC.
A possible conflict in aircraft identification, may exist. The preliminary NTSB report, DCA12PA076, lists the aircraft registration as: N329AX, SN(C/N)41H-003067. Sources: http://www.cnbc.com/id/47481724 http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_20659466/civilian-pilot-dies-camarillo-jet-crash?source=rss http://www.pprune.org/military-aircrew/485772-hunter-crash-california.html http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2012/05/18/national/a131720D95.DTL#ixzz1vGeNmfhg http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/may/18/former-military-plane-crashes-near-camarillo/ www.registry.faa.gov http://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/brief.aspx?ev_id=20120518X65127&key=1