Chief technician of missing Taiwan F-16A jet dies in suspected suicide

A F-16 fighter jet takes off during a military drill at Zhi-Hang Air Base in Taitung, Taiwan, on Jan 30, 2018.
PHOTO: Reuters

TAIPEI — The chief Air Force technician of the unit of an F-16A fighter jet that crashed a week earlier was found dead on Sunday night in a suspected suicide.

Chinese-language media reported that the military mechanist, surnamed Huang, died of asphyxiation, citing a death certificate that was already issued.

The tragic incident follows the recent disappearance of an F-16A fighter jet that went missing two minutes after taking off from Chiashan Air Force Base in Hualien, on the east coast of Taiwan, while performing a night training exercise.

Huang reportedly served in the 26th Tactical Fighter Group of the 5th Tactical Fighter Wing, the same unit as the missing F-16 and its pilot, with some suggesting the two incidents are connected.

The ill-fated F-16, tail number 6672, disappeared from radar screens at 6.07pm on Nov 17 over waters east of Taiwan, two minutes after taking off. The aircraft and its pilot remain missing as of Monday, with search operations ongoing.

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) has sent officers to comfort Huang’s family and will cooperate with investigators to determine the cause of the incident.

The MND added that it will step up counselling in all military units to prevent similar incidents.

SINGAPORE HELPLINES

  • Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
  • Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
  • Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800
  • Institute of Mental Health's Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222
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