South Korean air force pilot killed after fighter jet crashes

In this file photo taken on Nov 4, 2008,
a South Korean firefighter sprays water at the wreckage of a jet fighter which crashed into a rice paddy after colliding with another in Pocheon north of Seoul. (STR / POCHEON FIRE STATION / AFP)

SEOUL – A South Korean air force pilot was killed on Tuesday after his F-5E fighter jet crashed in a mountain south of the capital Seoul apparently due to engine failure, the air force said.

An engine fire warning came on shortly after the aircraft took off at around 1:44 pm from its base in Suwon, Gyeonggi province, leading it to crash into a mountain in the nearby city of Hwaseong.

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A team will investigate the exact cause of the accident and damage

The pilot of captain rank, who was only identified by his surname Shim and was the only person aboard the plane, had failed to escape despite his efforts, the air force said in a statement.

A team will investigate the exact cause of the accident and damage.

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South Korea has operated around 200 F-5s since it adopted them from the United States in the mid-1970s, most of which have already been or are soon to be decommissioned.

A dozen F-5s have crashed in South Korea since 2000, according to Yonhap news agency, including in 2010 when two of the aircraft plunged into a mountain on the east coast, killing three pilots.

Last week, an F-35A fighter made an emergency landing in the west coastal city of Seosan during training.