The Taiwanese Air Force has reportedly grounded its F-5E fighter jet fleet following a mid-air collision and crash of two aircraft.
The accident has claimed the life of one pilot while the other pilot has gone missing, reported several media sources.
According to the Ministry of National Defense (MND), four F-5E fighter jets took off on a training mission from Taitung’s Zhi-Hang Air Base.
The two F-5E fighter jets are believed to have collided and crashed into the ocean off the coast of Pingtung County.
Meanwhile, MND tweeted: “Two ROCAF F5E disappeared on radar at 1519 this afternoon while training. Available assets of ROCArmedForces, CGA, and first responders were dispatched to the area at once for search and rescue effort. We will not give up any chance, also keep guarding our country.”
Rescue efforts are ongoing in search of the missing pilot.
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At a press briefing, Taiwanese Air Force staff chief Huang Chih-wei said that the grounding is to perform safety checks on all military aircraft excluding those on guard or combat readiness missions.
It comes at a time when the airforce is under pressure to tackle Chinese military aircraft incursions into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).
Recently, the MND has been actively reporting about the almost daily frequent incursions.
The aircraft fleet has been defending Taiwan’s airspace for the past 35 years.
Last year, an F-5 crashed during a training mission off the coast of Taitung and killed its pilot lieutenant colonel Kuan-meng Chu.
Following this incident, the airforce conducted a thorough, large-scale inspection of the aircraft model, including a trial flight to inform the jet’s airworthiness.