By Brendan Sobie in Singapore
One of South Korea’s four recently delivered Boeing F-15Ks crashed last week during an overwater training flight, killing the instructor and student pilot.
The fighter went missing at around twilight. The crew were believed to be wearing night vision goggles for a three-ship training exercise and did not eject. Debris has been discovered, but the black box and major components, including the General Electric F110-129 engines, remain underwater about 48km (25nm) off the South Korean coast.
The air force says its F-15K acceptance schedule will not be affected unless the investigation, expected to take up to 90 days, uncovers a technical problem with the aircraft.
Industry sources say there are no indications there were any malfunctions and the cause of the crash was most likely pilot error.
GE and other F-15K programme partners are monitoring the investigation closely because the aircraft that crashed was only the fifth F-15K to roll off Boeing’s St Louis production line and South Korea is the launch customer for the F110-129 engine on the F-15.