The F-16, assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing, experienced an in-flight emergency near Kunsan Air Base, South Korea.
On Jan. 31, 2024, at around 08:41 AM LT, an F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing, based at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, crashed into the Yellow Sea after experiencing an in-flight emergency which forced the pilot to eject. This incident comes less than two months after another Viper, as the F-16 is nicknamed by its crews, assigned to the 8th FW crashed into the Yellow Sea on Dec. 11, 2023.
According to the press statement, the Viper pilot was safely recovered in a conscious state at around 09:30 AM and transported to a medical facility as a precaution for further assessment. The Wing mentioned that the search and rescue mission was a joint effort together with the South Korean military.
“We are very thankful to the Republic of Korea rescue forces and all of our teammates who made the swift recovery of our pilot possible,” said Col. Matthew C. Gaetke, 8th FW Commander. “Now we will shift our focus to search and recovery of the aircraft”. The area where the incident happened has not been specified, although the statement mentions “near Kunsan Air Base”.
As per standard operating procedure, the Air Force said information about the causes of the in-flight emergency will not be released until the conclusion of the safety and accident investigations. The press statement did not specify whether the Wing implemented a 48-hour pause of the flight operations, as happened in December, to prepare for the investigation.
This is now the third aircraft lost by the 8th FW in a year as, in addition to the one lost in December, another F-16 crashed near Osan Air Base on May 6, 2023. Also in that occasion, the pilot safely ejected and was transported to the nearest medical facility.