SEOUL (Reuters) : A US F-16 fighter jet crashed in South Korea on Monday during a routine training flight after experiencing “an in-flight emergency”, the US military said, adding the pilot had been rescued.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing crashed early in the morning over the Yellow Sea, according to the US Air Force’s (USAF) statement.
“The pilot ejected the aircraft. The pilot has been recovered by Republic of Korea Maritime Forces, awake and in stable condition,” the statement said, adding he would be evaluated further back at the base.
“We are grateful for the safe recovery of our Airman by our ROK Allies and that the pilot is in good condition,” said Colonel Matthew C Gaetke, the 8th fighter wing’s commander, according to the statement.
The USAF said that the cause of the in-flight emergency was unknown.
“The incident will be thoroughly investigated,” it said, adding that the name of the pilot would not be released, nor would further details about his condition.
“The jet crashed into the waters after taking off from an air base in Gunsan, 178 kilometres south of Seoul,” Yonhap previously reported citing unnamed sources.
South Korea´s defence ministry declined to comment.
Previously, a US F-16 jet crashed in May in a farmland area south of Seoul while conducting a routine training exercise. There were no additional casualties from the collision, and the pilot safely ejected.
Washington, which has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea to assist in defending it from the nuclear-armed North, is Seoul’s main security ally.
Following a fatal crash that claimed the lives of eight US airmen, the US military declared last week that it was grounding its fleet of V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft in nearby Japan.