Following a flight malfunction, the pilot of a South Korean F-35A fighter aircraft was forced into an emergency “belly landing”.

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.

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

Following a failure in the aircraft’s airframe, a South Korean pilot was forced to perform an emergency “belly landing” in order to save his life. Pictured: A South Korean fighter jet lands in Chungju in 2019

Seven other incidents have also involved the jet, including one pilot forced to eject following a landing accident at Eglin Air Force Base (Florida).

US Air Force claimed that the plane and pilot were responsible for the crash. 

Another Japanese F-35 aircraft also crashed into the Pacific Ocean close to Japan in 2019, killing its pilot. Officials have attributed the accident to spatial disorientation. 

A spokesperson for the South Korean Air Force stated that the aircraft crashed due to electronic problems. This was the second South Korean Air Force crash.

The incident resulted in no damage to the plane, but a military officer refused to confirm the matter. However, the pilot managed to walk away unscathed.

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 incident comes months after another F-35 aircraft in British Armed Forces crashed into the ocean during an unsuccessful takeoff from HMS Queen Elizabeth, in the Mediterranean Sea. 

He explained that the emergency landing was made because the landing gear didn’t extend. The jet then did the “belly landing”.

South Korea grounded all its F-35 fighter planes in response to the incident.   

According to AFP, ‘With an investigation underway, the whole (F-35 fleet) is being grounded from flying.’

South Korea purchased 40 F-35A variants of Lockheed Martin’s American manufacturer in 2014. The first batch was received five years later.

Shin Ok-chul, vice chief of staff for the Republic of Korea Air Force shared these dramatic details during a parliamentary hearing Wednesday.

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

In leaked footage, the jet disappears over the carrier’s edge. The pilot’s parachut floats in view.

Shin explained to lawmakers that the F-35A pilot was at low altitude and heard loud bangs. Shin then asked Shin to inspect aircraft systems.

“All systems stopped working, except for the engine and flight controls,” he stated. The pilot chose to not eject from the aircraft and instead attempted a belly land.

Shin stated that the military applied a foam to the runway of the Air Force Base in order to stop an explosion due the friction created by high-speed contact between the plane and the surface.

It was his first attempt at a belly landing in an F-35, he said.

F-35 Lightning II, a supersonic fighter aircraft with stealth technology is among the best in the world. Advanced communications are also available.

The three versions are available in three different configurations and can be used for many missions.

Despite its lower per-unit costs in recent years it remains the most costly weapon system the United States has ever created.

A US pilot was forced to eject midair after an F-35 jet crashed in South Carolina in 2018, destroying the aircraft

An F-35 aircraft crashed into a South Carolina airport in 2018 and a pilot from the US was forced out of midair.

Japan's Coast Guard searches the wreckage of an F-35 jet after it crashed into the Pacific Ocean in 2019

Japan’s Coast Guard examines the remains of an F-35 aircraft that crashed into the Pacific Ocean in 2019.

There have been many delays and cost overruns as well as technical setbacks that plagued the programme.

The jet was involved in an accident that occurred before the South Korean incident. In November, a British F-35B plunged into the Mediterranean after taking off from HMS Queen Elizabeth’s aircraft carrier. 

After the jet reached the top of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s flight platform, the pilot was able to accelerate the aircraft up. 

It triggered an intense underwater race to locate the debris of the stealth aircraft and protect the spot a mile under the surface. This was before Russian divers could reach the area.

Investigators are still investigating the circumstances of the crash. It is believed that a plastic raincover was left on the plane and it got absorbed into an engine.

Lockheed Martin claims that the F-35 is the most deadly, survivable, and connected fighter plane in the world. This gives pilots an edge against all enemies and allows them to complete their missions and return home safely. 

The F-35’s problems 

The delivery of the RAF’s new, US-built F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter in July 2021  marked a rare moment of celebration in what has been a troubled project.

The world’s most expensive weapon system is still the “fifth generation” fighter jet, but costs have stabilized at an astounding $406 billion.

Lockheed-Martin, the manufacturer of Lockheed-Martin’s aircraft, agreed to limit costs following criticisms from Donald Trump. He even tweeted support for an alternative plane. 

Britain is currently embarked on a £9.1billion programme to purchase 48 of the F-35s, from American aviation giant Lockheed Martin, by 2025.

One of the first four F-35B Lightning II aircraft arrives at RAF Marham in Norfolk on June 6, 2018

On June 6, 2018, one of four F-35B Lightning II planes arrives at RAF Marham, Norfolk.

America offered input to the manufacture of the aircraft and encouraged its NATO allies to share the costs. 15% of each jet is made from parts supplied by British companies, while others will be manufactured in Italy.

However, the aircraft have experienced a number of issues that have caused costs to soar.

It is possible that the technology underpinning this new generation of warplanes could fail, causing them to not function correctly.

The true cost of the British planes delivered this year is estimated to be over £150million each to cover ‘extras’ such as software upgrades and spare parts.

It is also possible that the software on planes could be vulnerable to cyber attacks. This cannot be independently tested by the UK.

Also, weak connectivity on HMS Queen Elizabeth (the Royal Navy’s main aircraft carrier) is limiting the capabilities of the jet.



The problems are not helped by the department responsible for the computer networks essential to the aircraft’s operation needs to find savings of £400 million this year.

A number of reports about the problems and costs led to the Defence Select Committee initiating an inquiry.

It warned the Ministry of Defence about keeping the Parliament and public unaware of the cost.

The MoD has so far refused to provide the estimated cost to the UK of buying the F-35, beyond referring to a National Audit Office which used the £9.1billion figure.

MPs declared that it is unacceptable for MoD to withhold information to parliament and public about the estimated cost of the entire programme.



Although the F-35 cost is the focal point of attention, it has also led to embarrassing reports about operational issues in the United States.

A mock air combat was held in 2015. The cutting edge aircraft was defeated by an F-16 from the 70s.

The Pentagon found 276 faults in the combat system of jet fighters during 2020 tests.

The 25mm cannon vibration was alarming, as well as problems with the helmet’s “virtual reality” function.

These issues included overheating, premature wear in vertical tails components and vulnerability to fire.

The US Air Force has temporarily grounded many of its F-35 stealth aircraft while they investigate an oxygen supply problem.

The Marine Corps, who also operate the same F-35B model the UK has purchased, was forced to ground its planes after flaws were found in the  computer system.