Posted April. 01, 2009 08:32,
A Korean F-16 fighter jet crashed into the Yellow Sea about 40 kilometers west of Taean County, South Chungcheong Province at 12:20 p.m. yesterday on a routine training mission. The two pilots ejected safely.
The Air Force suspended all flights of its aircraft after the accident.
The plane took off from an airfield in Seosan, South Chungcheong Province, at 11:50 a.m. and crashed in the Yellow Sea, according to the Air Force.
The pilot and his co-pilot ejected safely and were rescued by an Air Force helicopter. They were sent to a military hospital in Cheongju, South Chungcheong Province.
The Air Force set up an investigation team led by Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Kim Yong-hong. Investigators began collecting debris of the aircraft around the sea.
The exact cause of the crash will be identified soon because the pilots were rescued, an Air Force official said.
In July 2007, an F-16 fighter jet crashed into waters west of Taean County in night training due to vertigo. The two pilots onboard were killed.
In February the same year, another F-16 crashed due to maintenance failure. Gen. Kim Seong-il resigned as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to take responsibility for the accident.
After the crash, the Defense Ministry, the Air Force and the Board of Audit and Inspection conducted a sweeping inspection on all F-16s and found serious problems with engine maintenance.
The Air Force bought 140 F-16 fighters until 2000, including 12 F-16s purchased from the United States in 1995 as part of the Korea Fighter Program. One aircraft cost about 43 million dollars.