The Taiwanese Air Force lost two fighter jets in a crash on Monday, amidst mounting pressure to block the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft on a near-daily basis. This crash is the third to occur in the past six months.
Reports state the two air force F-5E fighters, each steered by one pilot, plummeted into the sea off the island’s southeastern coast after an apparent mid-air training mission collision.
The Taiwanese Air Force Chief of Staff Huang Chih-wei reported one pilot died after being rushed to hospital via helicopter, while the other remains missing. He added the two aircraft were still in working order and that the F-5 fleet was now grounded, with all training missions suspended.
Made in the US, the Taiwanese military first began to use the F-5 fighter jets in the 1970s. Now the jets are mostly retired from front-line activities, sometimes used for training and back-up for the main fleet.
A previous crash in October also involved an F-5 jet, resulting in the pilot’s death. In November, a more advanced F-16 fighter crashed off Taiwan’s east coast, killing the pilot.
In January 2020, eight people died in a helicopter collision with mountainous terrain near Taiwan’s capital of Taipei. Taiwanese top military official General Shen Yi-ming was among the eight killed.
These incidents have caused much concern surrounding Taiwan’s military training and maintenance.
The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense has reported PLA aircraft, including drones, are attempting to distract and wear out the Taiwanese Air Force though repeated flying in Taiwan’s air defence identification zone.
The Taiwanese Air Force is well trained and prepared, mostly with US-made equipment. However, the PLA outnumbers the island nation’s military.
The CCP continues to push claims that Taiwan is part of its territory, along with its relentless attempts at coercing the democratic island country into submission.
Reuters. (March 22, 2021). Taiwan loses two fighter jets in apparent collision, third such crash in six months.