Taiwan pauses F-16 training missions after jet crashes

i24NEWS - AFP/Reuters

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An armed US-made F16 fighter jet takes off from a motorway in Pingtung, southern Taiwan, during the annual Han Kuang drill on September 15, 2021.
Sam Yeh / AFPAn armed US-made F16 fighter jet takes off from a motorway in Pingtung, southern Taiwan, during the annual Han Kuang drill on September 15, 2021.

'The air force and coastguard are making our best efforts to continue the rescue mission'

Taiwan's air force paused combat training for its F-16 fleet on Tuesday after a fighter jet crashed into the sea.

The most advanced type in Taiwan's fleet, the F-16V, went missing from radar screens after taking off, according to the defense ministry. 

The pilot was identified as 28-year-old captain Chen Yi, who joined the air force in 2020.

President Tsai Ing-wen said to spare no efforts in the search and rescue mission and "to further clarify the cause of the accident," her spokesman said, according to Reuters

Witnesses saw the aircraft crash into the sea, according to the government's Rescue Command Center. 

Air Force Inspector-General Liu Hui-chien said the aircraft had only recently been upgraded to the "V" version, with new weapons systems and avionics, according to Reuters.  

"The air force and coastguard are making our best efforts to continue the rescue mission... but it's difficult at night with choppy sea," Liu said.

He added that combat training for the F-16 fleet was now suspended. 

The incident came less than two months after Taiwan commissioned its first squadron of US-made F-16V fighters in an effort to upgrade its aging fleet as tensions with China spike

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