Taiwan air force loses another fighter, second crash in 3 months

The Mirage 2000 fighter jet was on a training mission from the Chihhang air base in Taitung, Taiwan.
PHOTO: Wikipedia/Toshiro Aoki

TAIPEI - A Taiwanese Mirage 2000 fighter jet crashed into the sea off the island's southeast coast on Monday (March 14) though the pilot was rescued alive, the presidential office said, the second hull loss of a combat aircraft in the space of three months.

The presidential office said the French-built aircraft was on a training mission from the Chihhang air base in Taitung and the pilot was recovered safely after parachuting out.

Recovery efforts for the aircraft and investigation into what happened are ongoing, it added in a statement.

Taiwan received its first Mirage jets in 1997.

In January the air force suspended combat training for its F-16 fleet after a recently upgraded model of the fighter jet also crashed into the sea, killing the pilot.

Last year, two F-5E fighters, which first entered service in Taiwan in the 1970s, crashed into the sea after they apparently collided in mid-air during a training mission, also from the Chihhang air base.

In late 2020, an F-16 vanished shortly after taking off from the Hualien air base on Taiwan's east coast on a routine training mission.

While Taiwan's air force is well-trained, it has strained from repeatedly scrambling to see off Chinese military aircraft in the past two years, though the incidents have not been linked in any way to these intercept activities.

China, which claims the island as its own, has been routinely sending aircraft into Taiwan's air defence zone, mostly in an area around the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands but sometimes also into the airspace between Taiwan and the Philippines.

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