Two South Korean pilots feared dead in fighter jet crash

Rescue personnel gather near the scene of an F-15K fighter jet crash in southeastern South Korea on April 5, 2018.
Rescue personnel gather near the scene of an F-15K fighter jet crash in southeastern South Korea on April 5, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (AFP, REUTERS) - A South Korean military fighter jet crashed on Thursday (Apr 5), apparently killing both pilots on board, an air force spokesman said.

The F-15K Slam Eagle went down in the southern county of Chilgok, in North Gyeongsang province, on its way back to the Daegu Air Base after an hour-long mission. The spokesman did not comment on the cause.

It had taken off from the air base at 1.30pm local time (12.30pm Singapore time) and crashed at around 2.38pm (1.38pm Singapore time), according to Xinhua news agency.

“Bodies were found and we are checking their ID but both pilots are feared dead,” the spokesman told Agence France-Presse.

No ground damage was reported, he said.

The jet was unrelated to United States-South Korean military drills taking place in South Korea this month.

The annual joint military exercises were delayed by about a month for the Winter Olympics and to help create conditions for a resumption of talks between North Korea and South Korea.

The last crash involving a South Korean F-15K fighter was in 2006 when it fell into the Sea of Japan during a nighttime mission, killing both pilots.

Last year (2017), an F-16D fighter crashed in North Gyeongsang but its two pilots ejected to safety.

South Korea’s air force first introduced the F-15K, made by Boeing, in 2005. It operates more than 60 F-15Ks.