South Korea plans to partially resume flights this week of its KF-16 fighter jets that were grounded after one of them crashed in February, as an investigation has determined a cause and safety checks were carried out on the other jets, the Air Force said Wednesday.
The two-seat KF-16D warplane fell into the Yellow Sea on Feb. 27, around 13 minutes after taking off from an air base in Gunsan, 274 kilometers south of Seoul. The pilots aboard the airplane safely ejected.
Following the accident, the Air Force suspended the flying of around 120 KF-16 jets.
According to the preliminary results of the investigation by a group of military officers and experts, including those from its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, a failure in the fuel supply to the combustion chamber is believed to have caused the engine flameout.
"We are working to verify exactly what caused the fuel supply blockage," the Air Force said, adding that it is the first reported case of such fuel system problems causing a flameout.
Noting that the military has been carrying out special checkups on the jets and changed an internal filter, one of the key parts, the Air Force said the jets were found to be safe enough and are scheduled to resume flights starting Friday.
The KF-16 warplanes were delivered to the Air Force in 1998.