Pilot Ejects Safely from F-16 During Landing at Kunsan Air Base

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U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing prepare to take off for a routine training flight at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, on Oct. 10, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mackenzie Mendez)
U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing prepare to take off for a routine training flight at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, on Oct. 10, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mackenzie Mendez)

A U.S. Air Force pilot ejected safely from his F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft Monday during a routine landing at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, according to the service.

The incident happened at 3:30 p.m. local time near the base runway, the 8th Fighter Wing said in a news release.

The unidentified pilot was transferred to a local medical facility after sustaining minor injuries.

Col. Tad Clark, the 8th Fighter Wing commander, has currently "suspended all military and civilian flying operations to ensure the safety and security of people and assets," officials said in the release.

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The wing, known as the "Wolf Pack," did not say when operations would resume. The mishap is under investigation.

The incident follows two recent F-16 mishaps, one that occurred near Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, and another near Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, in October.

One jet, assigned to the 49th Wing at Holloman, went down at around 7:16 p.m. just 80 miles southeast of the base on Oct. 29. The pilot was able to eject from the aircraft and was treated at a local hospital, base officials said in a news release at the time.

Meanwhile, an F-16 belonging to the 480th Fighter Squadron, 52nd Fighter Wing, crashed around 3 p.m. local time in Zemmer, Germany, on Oct. 8, officials said.

The pilot was able to eject and was rescued with minor injuries, the base said at the time.

Spangdahlem's 52nd Fighter Wing temporarily paused flying operations following the crash and ended a flight exercise two days early.

A total of 338 F-16s have been destroyed in crashes, accidents or other ground incidents between 1975 and 2019, according to a recent analysis from Air Force Magazine.

Based on data from the Air Force Safety Center, sixteen of those have occurred since 2014, the magazine said.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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