US Fighter Jet Crashes Into the Sea

( – An American F-16 fighter has crashed off the coast of South Korea after an in-flight emergency. The single-seat jet went down on Wednesday morning local time. The pilot ejected safely and was rescued after less than an hour in the water.

On January 3, the public affairs office of the USAF 8th Fighter Wing, based at Kunsan Air Base around 110 miles south of the South Korean capital, Seoul, announced that one of the wing’s F-16C fighters had gone down in the Yellow Sea at around 8:40 am local time. Colonel Matthew C Gaetke, the wing’s commander, said the pilot had ejected from the aircraft after declaring an in-flight emergency. A joint search and rescue operation was then launched by US and South Korean forces, and the pilot was recovered around 9:30 am. He was conscious, and was immediately taken in for a medical assessment. Col. Gaetke said that, with the pilot safe, the next priority was finding and recovering the wreck of the fighter; the cause of the crash won’t be known until after an investigation has been completed.

Although the F-16 isn’t a new design –- it first entered USAF service in 1978 –- it’s the mainstay of the Air Force’s fighter fleet, with over 700 in front-line service. It’s also used by many US allies. The 8th Fighter Wing is equipped with two squadrons of the recently upgraded F-16CM Block 40 version; this is fitted with an advanced new radar and the latest Link 16 tactical datalink, which allows aircraft to share targeting information with each other. The technology on the crashed jet would be a valuable prize for hostile nations –- and the Yellow Sea has North Korea to the northeast and China to the west. Finding the wreck, and either recovering it or making sure it’s completely destroyed, will do a lot to safeguard our technical edge over both potential adversaries.

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