Officials say a US pilot safely ejected before his F-16 crashed into the sea off South Korea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A U.S. Air Force pilot safely ejected on Monday before his F-16 fighter jet crashed into the sea off South Korea’s southwestern coast, U.S. and South Korean military officials said.

The unidentified pilot was recovered by South Korean maritime forces and was “awake and in stable condition,” the U.S. 8th Fighter Wing said in a statement. It said the pilot was being returned to Kunsan Air Base near the southwestern port city of Gunsan, where he would be evaluated further.

The pilot took off from the air base, used jointly by the U.S. and South Korean air forces, on a routine training flight and was forced to eject from the aircraft after experiencing an unspecified in-flight emergency.

The 8th Fighter Wing, which is composed of two F-16 squadrons, said the cause of the in-flight emergency is being investigated.

“We are grateful for the safe recovery of our Airman by our ROK Allies and that the pilot is in good condition,” Col. Matthew C. Gaetke, the 8th Fighter Wing commander, said in a statement, referring to the Republic of Korea, South Korea’s official name.

A U.S. Air Force Osprey aircraft crashed off southern Japan on Nov. 29 during a training mission, killing all eight people on board.

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