Taipei: Authorities said on Wednesday that Taiwan has grounded all F16 fighter jets for safety inspections as rescuers continue to search for the one that was missing during the training exercise.
This decision removed about 150 aircraft from Taiwan’s skies, leaving this democratic island to rely on a more limited fleet to warn of Chinese jets, which have been at unprecedented speeds in recent months. Buzzing.
The Air Force said the single-seat F16 plane carried by the 44-year-old pilot disappeared from radar at an altitude of about 6,000 feet (1,800 meters) two minutes after taking off from Hualien Air Force Base in eastern Taiwan on Tuesday night.
The disappearance occurred three weeks after the pilot plunged his F-5E fighter into the sea during training and caused a similar grounding death.
Tsai Ing-wen said: “The rescue mission is now our top priority. The Air Force has grounded all F16s for inspection, and I have instructed to investigate the cause of the accident.”
Taiwan has always been threatened by China’s continuous invasion. China regards Taiwan as its own territory and has vowed to seize Taiwan by force when necessary.
Its fighter team is very old and has been replaced by the powerful force of China. Without F16, it includes locally manufactured indigenous defense fighters, French-made Mirage in the late 1990s, and F5-E fighters dating back to the 1970s.
Since Taiwan delivered fighter jets purchased from the United States in 1997, seven crashes involving F16s have occurred.
Taiwan has rushed to purchase aircraft at a rate twice that of the same period last year to prevent China’s increasing invasion of the defense zone.
Analysts said that Beijing’s flyby was designed to test the island’s defensive response, but also to consume its fighter jets, the closer the battle of each aircraft is due.
The Taiwan military suffered a series of air crashes this year.
In January, eight senior officials, including the chief of staff, were killed in a helicopter crash.
Beijing accumulates military, economic and diplomatic pressure on Taiwan. Because Chairman Tsai was in the 2016 general election, part of the pressure was due to her refusal to acknowledge its position, and the island has a “One China” part.
Under the leadership of US President Donald Trump, Washington authorized the sale to Taiwan worth about $18 billion worth of arms, including 66 new-generation F16s and advanced missile platforms, which angered Beijing.