South Korean F-35A jet pilot makes emergency 'belly landing' after landing gear fails 1

South Korean F-35A jet pilot makes emergency ‘belly landing’ after landing gear fails

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South Korean F-35 pilot is forced to make an emergency ‘belly landing’ after landing gear fails weeks after British plane toppled into the Mediterranean off HMS Queen Elizabeth

  • The landing gear on the £75million jet failed to extend over South Korean airbase
  • The pilot decided to perform a dangerous ‘belly landing’ instead of ejecting
  • In November, a British F-35 fell into the sea after a failed takeoff  


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A pilot has been forced to make an emergency ‘belly landing’ in a South Korean F-35A fighter jet after suffering a malfunction in the air.

Landing gear on the jet failed to extend but instead of ejecting, the pilot decided to land the £75million US-made craft at an airbase on its belly.

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It is the latest in a series of incidents for the stealth fighter after a British F-35 toppled into the sea during a failed takeoff from HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Mediterranean.

A pilot has been forced to make an emergency 'belly landing' in a South Korean F-35A fighter jet after suffering a malfunction in the air. Pictured: A South Korean fighter jet lands in Chungju in 2019

A pilot has been forced to make an emergency ‘belly landing’ in a South Korean F-35A fighter jet after suffering a malfunction in the air. Pictured: A South Korean fighter jet lands in Chungju in 2019

The jet has been involved in seven other incidents including a pilot who was forced to eject after a crash on landing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

The US Air Force said the pilot and plane systems were at fault for the crash. 

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A Japanese F-35 also crashed into the Pacific Ocean near Japan, which killed its pilot in 2019. Officials blamed the crash on spatial disorientation. 

In the latest crash, the first in South Korea, the equipment failed due to electronic issues, a South Korean Air Force spokesman said, forcing the pilot to take the unprecedented action.

A military official refused to confirm if the jet suffered any damage in the incident but the pilot walked away uninjured.

He said: ‘The jet did an emergency landing as the landing gear did not extend. This would mean the jet did the ‘belly landing’.’

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In response, South Korea has grounded its entire fleet of advanced F-35 fighter jets pending a probe into the dramatic landing.   

‘With the investigation under way, the entire (F-35) fleet is suspended from flying,’ a defence ministry official told AFP.

South Korea ordered 40 F-35A variants from its American maker Lockheed Martin in 2014, receiving the first batch five years later.

Republic of Korea Air Force vice chief of staff Shin Ok-chul shared the dramatic details at a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday.

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The F-35A was flying at low altitude when the pilot heard bangs, prompting him to check aircraft systems, Shin told lawmakers.

‘All systems had stopped working except flight controls and the engine,’ he said, adding that the pilot then chose not to eject and decided to attempt a belly landing.

It comes just months after another F-35 jet in the British Armed Forces toppled into the sea during a failed takeoff from HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Mediterranean Sea

It comes just months after another F-35 jet in the British Armed Forces toppled into the sea during a failed takeoff from HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Mediterranean Sea

It comes just months after another F-35 jet in the British Armed Forces toppled into the sea during a failed takeoff from HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Mediterranean Sea 

The jet is seen disappearing over the edge of the aircraft carrier and the pilot's parachute floats into view in leaked footage of the crash

The jet is seen disappearing over the edge of the aircraft carrier and the pilot’s parachute floats into view in leaked footage of the crash

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The military sprayed a special foam on the runway at the air force base to prevent an explosion from the friction caused by the plane making contact with the surface at high speed, Shin said.

He said it was the first time a belly landing was attempted in an F-35.

The supersonic F-35 Lightning II is one of the most potent and agile fighters in the world, featuring stealth technology and advanced communications.

Its three variants are designed for a wide variety of missions.

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And while its per-unit cost has come down in recent years, it is considered the most expensive weapons system ever developed by the United States.

The programme has also been plagued by numerous delays, cost overruns and technical setbacks.

Before the South Korean incident, the jet’s most recent accident involved a British F-35B plunging into the Mediterranean during takeoff from the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in November. 

The jet accelerated up the ramp of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s flight deck, before the pilot ejected when the plane reached the top. 

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The incident triggered a frantic underwater race to find the wreckage of the stealth jet and secure the crash site a mile below the surface before Russian divers could get there first.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, but it is thought that a red plastic rain cover for the jet was accidentally left on and sucked into an engine.

Lockheed Martin says the F-35 ‘is the most lethal, survivable and connected fighter aircraft in the world, giving pilots an advantage against any adversary and enabling them to execute their mission and come home safe.’ 

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