SEOUL: A US F-16 fighter appears to have crashed into Yellow Sea waters off the coast of South Korea, stoking safety concerns after eight US airmen were killed last month in the crash of an Osprey aircraft near a Japanese island.
The F-16 crashed into the sea Monday after taking off at about 9am from Gunsan, some 180 kilometers (110 miles) south of Seoul, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing sources it did not identify. The pilot ejected and was conscious after being rescued from the sea, it said.
US Forces Korea did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The crash of the Osprey off the southwestern island of Yakushima ultimately prompted the US military to ground its entire fleet of several hundred of the aircraft to check for a possible equipment problem that may have been the cause of the accident, military officials said.
Before the decision to ground the fleet, the Japanese government had called for US military forces in the country to suspend use of the Osprey, which was made by a unit of Boeing Co. and the Bell Helicopter unit of Textron Inc., so that checks could be conducted.
The crash in Japan returned scrutiny to the Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft that can take off and land like a helicopter and fly like an airplane. Early years of setbacks and accidents - especially in 2000, when two crashes killed 23 Marines - triggered a major Pentagon review and subsequent design changes for the aircraft that served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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