Taiwan suspends F-16 fleet combat training after jet crashes into sea

The island’s defense ministry said the F-16V, the most advanced type in the Taiwanese fleet, disappeared from radar screens after taking off from Chiayi Air Base in southern Taiwan on a mission to training on a coastal firing range.

President Tsai Ing-wen gave instructions to spare no effort in the search and rescue mission and “to further clarify the cause of the accident,” her spokesperson said.

The government rescue command center said witnesses saw the plane crash into the sea and helicopters and ships were looking for the pilot.

Air Force Inspector General Liu Hui-chien said the aircraft had only recently been upgraded to the “V” version, with new weapon systems and avionics. .

Combat training for the F-16 fleet is now on hold, he added.

At the end of 2020, an F-16 disappeared shortly after taking off from Hualien Air Base on the east coast of Taiwan for a routine training mission.

Last year, two F-5E fighters, which first entered service in Taiwan in the 1970s, crashed into the sea off the southeast coast after apparently colliding in midair. during a training mission.

Although the Taiwan Air Force is well trained, it has tried to scramble several times to repel Chinese military planes over the past two years, although accidents have not been linked to no way in these interception activities.

China, which claims the democratic island as its own, regularly sends planes into Taiwan’s air defense zone, primarily to an area around the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands, but sometimes also into the airspace between Taiwan and the United States. Philippines.

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