JAKARTADAILY.ID - Taiwan's air force announced the suspension of F-16 fleet combat training following a series of accidents, with the most recent of an upgraded model of the fighter jet, F-16V, crashed.
As reported by Reuters on Tuesday, Taiwan's Defence Ministry said the jet went missing from radar screens 30 minutes after taking off from the Chiayi Air Base for routine training. Witnesses said the aircraft crashed into the sea near Aogu Wetland in Chiayi’s Dongshi Township.
“The single-seated F-16V (serial number 6650) operated by Captain Chen Yi took off from its home base in Chiayi at 2.55 pm for a routine training mission and went missing near the Shuaixi firing target zone at 3.23 pm,” said the air force in a statement released on Tuesday.
President Tsai Ing-wen has instructed to "spare no efforts" to search and rescue the pilot. At the same time, identifying the cause of the accident.
The jet has only been upgraded to F-16V recently, making it Taiwan's most advanced aircraft in the suspended fleet at the moment. It was equipped with new weapons systems and avionics, according to the Air Force Inspector-General Liu Hui-Chien.
A similar accident happened in 2020 when an F-16 flown by a 44-yar-old pilot vanished mid-air at an altitude of 6,000 ft (1,800 meters) not long after taking off from Taiwan's east coast Hualien airbase.
Another one occurred in 2021, only three weeks after, where two F-5E fighter jets crashed into the sea after colliding during a training session.