A bird strike was the probable cause behind the accident with the Republic of Korea Air Force F-35A jet fighter on Jan. 4, according to officials.
South Korea’s air force has concluded that the ingestion of a small bird into a Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II jet’s engine caused the aircraft to emergency “belly landing” at an air base.
However, the aircraft bird strike does not explain the failure of the aircraft’s avionics and landing gear noticed earlier.
“The jet did an emergency landing as the landing gear did not extend. This would mean the jet did the ‘belly landing,'” said a South Korean military official, who would not confirm whether the aircraft suffered any damage in the incident.
South Korea’s Air Force and the U.S. military plan to initiate a joint investigation into what went wrong with the fighter manufactured by the U.S. defense firm Lockheed Martin.
The Air Force will suspend all flights by its F-35A fighters pending the probe, the officials said.
It has so far received more than 30 F-35A jets from the United States under a plan to deploy a total of 40.