Seoul: A US Air Force pilot managed to eject safely before an F-16 fighter jet crashed into the sea near South Korea’s west coast on Wednesday, according to an Air Force unit stationed in the country. This marks the second crash of an F-16 jet in South Korea in just over a month after another aircraft crashed in December.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing experienced “an in-flight emergency” over the sea and crashed, the unit said in a statement. The pilot, who ejected safely and was rescued about an hour later, is conscious and was transported to a medical facility for assessment.
Colonel Matthew Gaetke, the commander of the 8th Fighter Wing, thanked the South Korean rescuers working with the US military on the rescue of the pilot and said the goal was now to find and recover the aircraft. The west coast city of Gunsan is home to one of the two main air bases used by the US military in South Korea.
The cause of the crash was being investigated. “We are very thankful to the Republic of Korea rescue forces and all of our teammates who made the swift recovery of our pilot possible,” said Gaetke, referring to South Korea’s formal name.
The 8th Fighter Wing, which is composed of two F-16 squadrons, previously experienced an F-16 crash in December. The pilot of that aircraft reportedly experienced problems during a routine training flight and was safely recovered after ejecting the fighter jet before it crashed into the sea.
(with inputs from agencies)