US Fighter Jet Crashes in Waters Off South Korea After ‘In-Flight Emergency’

Aldgra Fredly
By Aldgra Fredly
December 11, 2023Asia & Pacific
US Fighter Jet Crashes in Waters Off South Korea After ‘In-Flight Emergency’
A U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jet lands at the Osan U.S. Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, on March 20, 2018. (Yonhap via Reuters)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jet crashed into the Yellow Sea off South Korea on Monday after encountering an “in-flight emergency” during flight training. But the pilot managed to eject safely from the aircraft.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon was conducting a routine training flight over the Yellow Sea at 8:43 a.m. local time on Dec. 11 when it encountered an in-flight emergency, the U.S. 8th Fighter Wing said in a statement.

The pilot, whose identity remains undisclosed by the U.S. Air Force, ejected from the aircraft and was rescued by South Korea’s maritime forces.

The pilot has regained consciousness and was being returned to Kunsan Air Base near the southwestern port city of Gunsan, South Korea, where he will be evaluated further, according to the 8th Fighter Wing.

“We are grateful for the safe recovery of our Airman by our ROK Allies and that the pilot is in good condition,” 8th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Matthew Gaetke said, using the acronym for South Korea’s official name, the Republic of Korea.

The 8th Fighter Wing said the cause of the in-flight emergency was unknown and that a thorough investigation would be conducted.

Osprey Crash in Japan

The incident occurred just weeks after the crash of a U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey aircraft off the coast of Japan on Nov. 29 during a training mission, killing all eight service members on board.

The bodies of six crew members have since been recovered. The U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command said on Dec. 10 that it had recovered the remains of the seventh crew member from the Osprey mishap.

“Currently there is a combined effort in locating and recovering the remains of our eighth Airman,” it said in a statement.

“The main priority is bringing our Airmen home and taking care of their family members. Support to, and the privacy of, the families and loved ones impacted by this incident remains AFSOC’s top priority.”

Japan has reportedly suspended all flights of its own fleet of 14 Ospreys. Japanese officials say they have asked the U.S. military to resume Osprey flights only after ensuring their safety.

The Pentagon said no such formal request has been made and that the U.S. military is continuing to fly 24 MV-22s, the Marine version of Ospreys, deployed on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa.

Pieces of wreckage that Japan’s coast guard and local fishing boats have collected were handed over to the U.S. military for examination, Coast Guard officials said.

Coast Guard officials said the recovered pieces of wreckage include some parts of the aircraft and an inflatable life raft but nothing related to the cause of the crash, such as an engine. Local witnesses reported seeing fire coming from one of the engines.

Under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, Japanese authorities are not given the right to seize or investigate U.S. military property unless the United States decides otherwise. That means it will be practically impossible for Japan to independently investigate the cause of the accident.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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