Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Pilot ejects safely after F-16 fighter jet crashes into sea off South Korea’s west coast

F-16 flight experiences unspecified in-flight emergency and crashes into Yellow Sea

Shweta Sharma
Wednesday 31 January 2024 05:17 GMT
FILE: Pilot ejected from F-16 fighter jet before it smashed into warehouse

An F16 fighter jet pilot of the US Air Force safely ejected after his plane crashed into the waters off South Korea, marking the third such incident this year.

The pilot, who has not been identified yet, was conscious and was taken to a medical facility for assessment, the US 8th Fighter Wing said in a statement.

The US and South Korea mission partners are working closely to recover the pilot, it said.

The flight of the 8th Fighter Wing in Kunsan Air Base suffered an “unspecified in-flight emergency” over the Yellow Sea and had to eject before the plane crashed into sea at around 8.41 am local time on Wednesday.

The pilot was recovered at around 9.30am through joint rescue efforts by South Korea and US officials.

The US military said that the pilot was in stable condition and an investigation has been launched into the crash.

"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 Col Matthew C Gaetke, 8th Fighter Wing commander. "Now we will shift our focus to search and recovery of the aircraft.

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-35A Lightning II (R) fighter jets taxiing at Kunsan Air Base in 2017 in Kunsan, South Korea (U.S. Air Force via Getty Images)

The 8th Fighter Wing at the American base around 180km south of Seoul, is composed of two F-16 squadrons.

It was the second crash in the space of less than two months and third in one year.

In December, an F-16 crashed into the sea during routine training after experiencing an in-flight emergency. The pilot was safely recovered after ejecting the aircraft before it crashed into sea near the port city of Gunsan.

The incident followed the 29 November crash of a US Air Force Osprey aircraft during a training mission off Japan’s coast. Eight people on board the plane died in the fatal crash.

In May, another F-16 of the US 51st Fighter Wing crashed near Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, 60km south of Seoul.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in