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South Korean KF-16D crashes in Yellow Sea

July 20, 2007 (by Lieven Dewitte) - According to reports from members a KF-16D crashed in the Yellow Sea off South Korea's west coast during a night training exercise and two pilots are presumed dead.

A RoKAF F-16D block 52 seen here on final approach at Seosan AB.

The KF-16D crashed around 2100h local time after taking off from its base in Seosan, about 150 kilometres (94 miles) south of Seoul. Helicopters, surveillance planes and patrol boats were combing the crash but the two crew members are presumed to be dead.

"Some wreckage was found and the two pilots are feared dead,'' the Air Force said in a statement.

South Korea has about 130 KF-16 planes, which have been assembled in the country, using parts from US-made F-16 jets.

The Korean air force said it is conducting an investigation to find out the exact cause of the accident.

This latest crash brings the total number of written-off KF-16s to five. One crashed last February, two crashed in 1997 with another in February 2002. The cause of the previous crash proved to be due to poor maintenance while the others were related to engine problems.

South Korea plans to replace its outdated fighters with US-made F-15K jets. A total of 40 of the planes are to be delivered by 2008.

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