On Monday, a U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jet crashed into the waters off South Korea’s southwestern coast during a routine training exercise. The incident occurred after the jet took off from an air base in Gunsan, approximately 178 kilometers (110 miles) south of Seoul.
The pilot, who was ejected from the aircraft, was successfully rescued by South Korean maritime forces.
The U.S. Air Force’s 8th Fighter Wing, which oversees the F-16 squadrons, confirmed that the pilot is “awake and in stable condition.”
The pilot, whose identity remains undisclosed, was returned to Kunsan Air Base near Gunsan for further evaluation. The cause of the in-flight emergency leading to the crash is currently under investigation.
This marks the second public incident involving a U.S. F-16 in South Korea this year. In May, another F-16 assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing crashed during a routine training exercise in an agricultural area outside Osan Air Base. The pilot, in that instance, also safely ejected from the aircraft.
The United States Forces Korea, responsible for overseeing American soldiers in South Korea, has not provided immediate confirmation of the recent crash. South Korea’s defense ministry declined to comment on the incident.
The crash comes amid heightened attention on U.S. military aviation safety in the region. Last week, the U.S. military grounded its fleet of V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft in Japan following a fatal crash that claimed the lives of eight U.S. airmen.
The U.S. maintains a significant military presence in South Korea, with approximately 28,500 troops stationed to support the country’s defense against potential threats from North Korea. The collaborative training exercises between the U.S. and South Korean air forces are a routine part of their alliance.
As investigations into the recent F-16 crash continue, the incident highlights the challenges and risks associated with military aviation, emphasizing the importance of ongoing safety measures and protocols.