US Air Force blames power loss, weather for F-16 crash in South Korea in May 2023

by IANS |

Seoul, May 17 (IANS) A US F-16 fighter jet crash incident in South Korea in May of last year occurred due to a partial power loss experienced by the aircraft and weather conditions at the time, a US Air Force unit stationed in the country said Friday.

On May 6, 2023, the single-engine fighter jet assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing (FW) of the US 7th Air Force crashed into farmland near Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, 60 kilometres south of Seoul, shortly after take-off, Yonhap news agency reported.

The pilot ejected safely, with no serious injuries or fatalities being reported.

After a yearlong investigation, the US Air Force's Accident Investigation Board found the jet experienced the power loss about 11 seconds after take-off, resulting in inaccurate information being displayed on its flying instruments, according to a 7th Air Force release.

That left the pilot spatially disoriented as the weather conditions at the time limited the pilot to solely relying on the instruments to maintain aircraft control, it said.

As the jet flew to a very low altitude, the pilot ejected at 710 feet (216 metres) above ground level, while the aircraft plunged into the ground, resulting in its total loss.

The investigation board noted that the absence of either the power loss or the weather conditions may have prevented the crash, according to the release.

The incident marked the first of three US F-16 crashes in South Korea over the past year, raising concerns over the safety of civilians living near US air bases in the country.

Another US F-16 crashed into the Yellow Sea last December, while the third one into the waters in January. All of the pilots safely ejected and were rescued.

"The investigations for two other 8th FW F-16 incidents in December 2023 and January 2024 are still being conducted, and their results will be published as soon as they are available for public release," the 7th Air Force said, adding that it takes every aircraft incident seriously.

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