A US F-16 fighter jet has crashed in waters off South Korea’s west coast on Wednesday morning local time, according to initial reporting by Yonhap news agency. The pilot is reported to have ejected from the aircraft and was promptly rescued, after descending to the ocean.
“The fighter jet crashed into the water and the rescued pilot is safe,” Yonhap reports of the incident which occurred near Gunsan, in North Jeolla province.
Though details have been scant, US Forces Korea have confirmed the crash. There doesn’t appear to have been any casualties as a result of the accident.
The Korean peninsula has witnessed a significant rise in tensions especially going back to last summer, when the US parked a nuclear submarine in a South Korean port for the first time since the 1980s.
From there, Pyongyang has ramped up its ballistic missile tests and military drills, which have been met with a rise in joint US-South Korean drills. However, it is as yet unclear whether this fresh jet crash came within the context of joint exercises.
North Korea has meanwhile kicked off this week with a series of launches, including the latest on Wednesday:
North Korea said Wednesday it conducted a test-firing of long-range cruise missiles with an aim to sharpen its counterattack and strategic strike capabilities, in its latest display of weapons threatening South Korea and Japan.
The report by North Korean state media came a day after South Korea’s military detected the North firing multiple cruise missiles into waters off its western coast, the third launch of such weapons this month. The event extended a provocative streak in weapons testing as North Korea continues to raise pressure on the United States and its Asian allies amid a prolonged freeze in diplomacy.
A mere month ago there was a similar crash of an American F-16 fighter jet, which was also in Gunsan, and it happened during a training exercise, the details of which can be reviewed in a military publication.