South Korean Navy recovers USAF pilot who ejected from crashed F-16 fighter

U.S. Air Force photo

A United States Air Force (USAF) pilot has been recovered by the South Korean Navy after safely ejecting from a F-16C Fighting Falcon before it crashed into the Yellow Sea. 

The aircraft belonged to the USAF 8th Fighter Wing, stationed at Kunsan Air Base, on the western coast of South Korea.  

At approximately 8:43 am during routine training, the F-16 encountered an unspecified in-flight emergency over the Yellow Sea. The pilot managed to eject successfully and was recovered by personnel of the South Korean Navy, awake and in stable condition. 

“We are grateful for the safe recovery of our Airman by our ROK Allies and that the pilot is in good condition,” said Colonel Matthew Gaetke, commander of the 8th Fighter Wing. 

An investigation into the cause of the in-flight emergency has been launched.  

What is the 8th Fighter Wing? 

The 8th Fighter Wing, also known as the “Wolf Pack,” operates the F-16C/D Fighting Falcon. The history of the wing dates back to the Korean War. Since its relocation from Japan to South Korea in 1974, it regularly participates in joint training exercises with the local military to maintain readiness in the region.  

On May 6, 2023, another 8th Fighter Wing F-16C fighter crashed in an agricultural area approximately 10 nautical miles from Osan Air Base. The moment of the crash was captured on video, showing the aircraft impacting the ground near a road and erupting in a fireball. The pilot was able to eject safely. 

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