In a harrowing incident during routine training, a U.S. F-16 fighter jet crashed into the Yellow Sea on Monday morning.
The pilot, however, managed to eject from the aircraft and was promptly rescued by South Korean authorities, according to an announcement by the U.S. Air Force.
The ill-fated jet, assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing, had taken off from Kunsan Air Base in Gunsan, located 178km south of Seoul. The crash occurred at approximately 8:43 a.m. local time, following what the U.S. military termed as an "in-flight emergency."
"The pilot has been recovered by Republic of Korea Maritime Forces, awake and in stable condition. He is being returned to Kunsan Air Base where he will be evaluated further," stated the U.S. Air Force in an official release.
South Korean Coast Guard and Navy units were swiftly deployed to the crash site, contributing to the successful rescue operation. A U.S. military official confirmed their involvement in the mission.
While the U.S. Air Force did not provide detailed information about the pilot's condition, they assured that an investigation into the incident would be launched. The cause of the crash remains unknown at this time.
This incident comes just months after a similar occurrence in May when an F-16 from the U.S. 51st Fighter Wing crashed into farmland near Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, 60km south of Seoul. Fortunately, the pilot escaped unharmed, and no civilian casualties were reported.
The U.S. military declared last week that it was grounding its V-22 Osprey tiltrotor fleet in South Korea’s neighbor Japan in the wake of a tragic incident that claimed the lives of eight airmen in a deadly crash.