South Korean KF-16 fighter crashes after engine failure, pilot ejects

Republic of Korea Armed Forces /

A South Korean Air Force (ROKAF) KF-16C fighter crashed after suffering an engine failure. The pilot managed to eject safely. 

The single-seat aircraft belonged to the 19th Fighter Wing based at Jungwon Air Base (JWO) in North Chungcheong province.  

During a scheduled mission, the fighter was affected by an engine malfunction. The pilot chose to eject about 20 kilometers west of the joint-use airport of Wonju Airport (WJU). 

“Currently, the pilot remains safe and will be transported to the Air Force Aerospace Medical Center,” the ROKAF told Yonhap news agency in a statement

As a result, the KF-16 fleet was grounded except for fighters assigned to surveillance and emergency missions. An investigation was opened to determine the causes of the crash. 

On June 8, 2021, a ROKAF pilot was forced to eject from his KF-16 fighter during a takeoff run at Seosan Air Base (HMY). The crash was found to have been caused by a bird strike. 

What is the KAI KF-16 fighter? 

Developed in the early 1990s, the KF-16 multi-role fighter jet is a Lockheed Martin 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. Today, it constitutes the backbone of the ROKAF. In 2016, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $1.2 billion contract to modernize the KF-16 fleet. 

South Korea is currently developing its first indigenous fighter, the KF-21 Boramae fifth-generation fighter jet, born from the KF-X program. The first prototype conducted its maiden flight on July 19, 2022, joined by a second prototype in early November 2022. 

Mass production of the 4.5 generation fighter will commence in 2026. The ROKAF hopes to receive 120 KF-21 fighters by 2032 to replace its aging fighters, namely the F-4E and F-5E.   


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