Taiwan says F-16 fighter jet goes missing during training

F16 Jet

Taiwan had almost 150 F16 fighter jets in the sky, which have all been recalled back to the ground for a detailed safety check, while the rescue team is continuing its search for the missing jet.

The grounding of almost 150 jets comes at a time of increasing Chinese threats which wants to "unify" the renegade island by force.

The F16 fighter jet that went missing by being commanded by a 44-year-old pilot. The jet disappeared two minutes after taking off from Hualien airbase in eastern Taiwan on Tuesday night this week.

Taiwan's military has grounded all of its F-16s after one aircraft disappeared from radars while flying a routine training mission.

On October 29, an F-5E fighter jet crashed into the sea during a training flight. That accident also prompted a fleet grounding, which lasted for two weeks.

A search for the jet's pilot, Col. Chiang Cheng-chih, is continuing, according to a statement from the office of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. As recently as on Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Taiwan was an inalienable part of China, following U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's comment that "Taiwan has not been a part of China".

The incidents come as Taiwan's air force is under greater pressure to respond to incursions by warplanes from China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary.

Taiwan's fleet of fighters is old and are outgunned by China's. With out the F16s fighter jets, the protection consists of the domestically constructed Indigenous Defence Fighter, French-built Mirages from the late 1990s and F5-E fighters that date again to the 1970s.

There have been seven major accidents involving F-16s in Taiwan since 1997.

Analysts say Beijing's fly-bys are created to test the island's defence responses but also to wear out its fighters, which come closer to expiry with each sortie. The incident adds to a string of military crashes on the island this year.

In January this year, eight senior officials including the chief of the general staff died in a helicopter crash.



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