SEOUL — A U.S. military F-16 jet crashed in southern South Korea during a training mission March 21 but its pilot ejected to safety, U.S. authorities said.
The plane crashed into a rice paddy around noon near a U.S. air base in the western port city of Gunsan, the U.S. military said in a statement.
“The (lone) pilot safely ejected before the plane crashed. Emergency response teams are on scene at this time,” it said.
There were no casualties or serious damage on the ground, a U.S. Air Force spokesman said, adding details would be released later.
A local fire station officer in Seocheon County near Gunsan said previously the pilot was injured and taken away by ambulance. The officer had identified the aircraft involved as an A-10 tank buster.
The crash came as South Korean and U.S. troops stage an annual joint military exercise, called Foal Eagle, from March 1 to April 30. It was unclear if the F-16 was involved in the drill.
North Korea habitually fiercely denounces annual joint exercises by U.S. and South Korean troops as a rehearsal for invasion. Seoul and Washington say they are merely defensive in nature.
The United States has based troops in the South since the 1950-53 war and the force currently numbers 28,500.