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(2nd LD) Air Force trainer jet crashes during drill

All Headlines 16:51 December 05, 2011

(ATTN: ADDS photos; CHANGES number of remaining T-59s in last para)

SEOUL, Dec. 5 (Yonhap) -- An Air Force trainer jet crashed on Monday during an exercise, killing both pilots aboard, officials said.

The T-59 trainer jet for the Air Force's 16th Fighter Wing crashed around 2:27 p.m. Monday near the unit at Yecheon, North Gyeongsang Province, about 250 kilometers southeast of Seoul, according to the officials.

They said two Air Force majors, a 34-year-old named Park Jeong-soo and a 33-year-old Kwon Seong-ho, were both killed in the crash.

Officials said the trainer jet crashed soon after taking off for an emergency landing exercise. The crash burned three vinyl greenhouses but caused no further damage.

Officials added that the Air Force has grounded all of its aircraft while it conducts safety inspections. T-59s will remain grounded until the completion of the Air Force's investigation into the crash, officials said.

According to the Air Force, the British T-59 first arrived in South Korea in 1992. The Air Force had planned to phase out the advanced trainer jet by 2013.

There are 15 T-59s in service following Monday's crash. Of the 20 that joined the Air Force, four have crashed and one other was damaged while on ground, officials explained.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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