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South Korea Grounds Most Air Force Fighters

Three Pilots Killed When Two F-5Es Crash Tuesday

The South Korean Air Force has grounded the majority of its fighter fleet after two aircraft crashed in mountainous terrain killing three pilots.

F-5E File Photo

The two aircraft down are older F-5E jets that were on a training mission Tuesday on the country's east coast. The international news service AFP reports it is the second time in two years that F-5E's have been involved in accidents. Two went down northeast of Seoul in November, 2008.

Only airplanes "essential for surveillance flights" were operating Wednesday, a spokesman told AFP, "When safety checks are completed the aircraft will return to flying one by another, starting Thursday," he added

The South Korean Air Force operates about 170 F-5E jets, all of which were expected to remain grounded until the cause of the accident could be determined. Newer aircraft are expected to return to service more quickly. The U.S. Air Force first flew F-5E's in the 1960's.

FMI: www.mnd.mil.kr/mndEng/main/index.jsp

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