News Branch Air Force

Air Force F-16 crashes in South Korea

The pilot was able to eject before impact.
Nicholas Slayton Avatar
American F-16s and B-1B bombers fly alongside South Korean F-35As and F-15Ks. (Photo courtesy U.S. Forces Korea)

An Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed into a field near Osan Air Base today. The crash occurred at 9:45 a.m. local time Saturday morning. 

The F-16 was taking part in a training flight, per an initial statement from the Air Force, when it went down over farmland a few miles away from Osan Air Base, which is home to the 51st Fighter Wing. The pilot was able to eject before the crash and was not injured. The pilot was taken to a medical center on the base for continued monitoring.

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Video from South Korean news outlets show parts of the wreckage from the F-16 on fire in the field. No one on the ground was hurt and no buildings were damaged. Firefighters were able to put out the blaze. 

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

“While we don’t have any additional information yet, we are relieved the pilot safely ejected and there were no other injuries,” Col. Henry R. Jeffress, III, 8th Fighter Wing commander said in a subsequent statement on the incident. “The US Air Force will standup an independent Safety Investigation Board to review all data and evidence related to today’s incident and use that information to determine its cause and prescribe any corrective safety measures to ensure the safety of the F-16 fleet.”

The fighter jet and pilot were assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, located on the western coast of the Korean Peninsula at Gunsan Airport.

Saturday’s crash is the latest aerial mishap this year for the American military. Last month a pair of crashes — one in Alaska and another in Kentucky — killed a total of 12 U.S. Army soldiers. That prompted the Army to order a 24-hour stand down to review aircraft safety measures. Active-duty units had through Friday, May 5 to complete it. U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard units have through the end of the month to carry out the stand down. 

The United States maintains a military force in South Korea, as well as additional Air Force elements in nearby Japan. They have carried out joint flights over the peninsula in response to new missile launches by North Korea. Earlier this year the U.S. and South Korea resumed large joint military exercises after years of cancelations or drawn-down operations.

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