Another F-16 has crashed during training — this time at the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea. On the bright side, the pilot ejected safely and suffered only minor injuries. He was taken to a medical facility, the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan said in a statement. The airfield where the crash happened has returned to normal operations.

The F-16 is one of the most successful and widely produced aircraft platforms in the history of military aircraft. It made its debut in the 1980s and has seen combat in every significant military campaign since then. The plane itself has not undergone much design change since a few upgrades in the early 90s and issues are starting to show with the aging workhorse of the United States military.

Within the last year, there have been five crashes involving this aircraft. Up to this point, the model has had a relatively good safety reputation. The US military has approximately 1100 active F-16 fighters in their arsenal, and they are being phased out of service due to their age and the cost of upkeep and maintenance. Worldwide, there are around 3000 units of this aircraft in over 25 different countries. Some of the aircraft are manufactured outside of the United States under the license by Lockheed Martin, who took over the original design contract from General Dynamics.

As of now, the causes of the crashes have all been related to the control system. With new technology on the cusp of deployment, it does not seem any upgrades are on the horizon for this model. Lt Col. Jason Stafford, a US Airforce pilot, tells International Business Times that it will be sad to see the plane leave, but it appears that it is becoming a liability.

F-16 fighter jet
In this photo, a ground controller salutes an F-16 fighter jet at Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey on March 7, 2003. Getty Images/Chris Hondros

Several new aircraft have been developed for the military after the release of the F-16, but cost-cutting measures and expense of aircraft have slowed down the process of revolving them into service. The F-22 Raptor is a stellar aircraft with a lot of stealth capability and weapons packages. However, it was not cost-effective to mass-produce and press into service over several branches of the military.

Meanwhile, the F-35 finally made its combat debut. There are currently two active units of F-35 aircraft in the military at this point — one of them is presently deployed in a combat capacity. The new Joint Strike Fighter also possesses stealth capability and the ability to share weaponry across several branches of the military. However, there have been hang-ups with rotating them in to replace the aging aircraft that are currently in use.

Despite being the most recognizable aircraft in the US military, it seems the time has come for the Viper to be retired. The majority of the US units that use the F-16 are Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units. In simple terms, the aircraft is not deployed into active service regularly. With five crashes recorded in a span of one year and all having very similar causes, it may be time to throw in the towel.