A McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II belonging to the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) has been written off after the fighter/ground attack aircraft crashed into the Yellow Sea during a mission on August 12.
The aircraft – serial unknown – is part of the ROKAF’s 153rd Fighter Squadron and was reportedly returning back to Suwon Air Base (AB) in South Korea’s Gyeonggi-do province, before it crashed into the Yellow Sea at approximately 1220hrs (local time). The F-4E’s two pilots managed to safely eject from the aircraft before it was destroyed. They were subsequently rescued and transferred to an Air Force medical centre in Cheongju – some 69 miles (112km) south of the nation’s capital, Seoul – as a precautionary measure.
According to the ROKAF, the two pilots discovered their engine was on fire and shifted course toward a coastal area in a bid to mitigate any risk to civilians, before subsequently egressing the aircraft. As a result of this incident, the ROKAF suspended all non-essential flight operations except for its surveillance and emergency assets. The air arm is currently investigating the cause of this attrition event but plans to ground all of its remaining F-4Es pending the result of the ongoing probe into the incident.
The Phantom II entered operational ROKAF service in September 1977 with 94 examples delivered in total. The South Korean air arm also operated more than 90 F-4Ds and 18 RF-4Cs, both of which have since been retired from service (June 2010 and February 2014, respectively).
Approximately 20 F-4Es are believed to still be operational with the ROKAF, all of which are operated by the 10th Fighter Wing’s 153rd Fighter Squadron at Suwon AB. South Korea plans to replace its ageing Phantom II and Northrop F-5E/F and KF-5E/F Tiger II fleets with Korea Aerospace Industries’ (KAI’s) domestically developed KF-21 Boramae multi-role fighter, which is expected to enter ROKAF service in 2028.