The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) said that the crash of a KF-16 on June 8, 2021, was caused by a bird strike.
On June 8, 2021, a ROKAF pilot was forced to eject from his KF-16 fighter during a takeoff run. The incident took place at Seosan Air Base (HMY) in western South Korea, where the 20th Fighter Wing is based.
During the takeoff run, the pilot detected problems with his aircraft and chose to eject. The fighter jet sustained damages but the pilot was uninjured. As a result, the whole KF-16 fleet was grounded.
Upon inspection of the aircraft involved in the incident, the ROKAF determined that a bird was ingested into an air intake of the jet, damaging the engine. Thus, the KF-16 fleet was deemed safe to resume operations.
“The Air Force will resume the jets’ operations next Monday after educating pilots on emergency action procedures and conducting preventive inspections on the aircraft,” it wrote in a statement quoted by the Yonhap news agency.
Acquired in the 1990s, the KF-16 multi-role fighter jet is an F-16C/D specially adapted to the needs of the Republic of Korea Air Force and partly assembled under license by Samsung Aerospace, now part of Korea Aerospace Industries. In 2016, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $1.2 billion contract to modernize the KF-16 fleet.
In April 2021, South Korean President Moon Jae-in unveiled the country’s first domestically developed fighter, the KF-21 Boramae fifth-generation fighter jet, born from the KF-X program.