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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


ROC Central News Agency

2007-05-14 21:21:18

    Taipei, May 14 (CNA) Weather and pilot error are probably the reasons for the crash of an F-5F jet fighter Friday that killed four people and injured nine, according to the preliminary results of an inquiry by the air force into the accident.

    The air force investigation team in charge of the inquiry visited the Chih Hang air base in Taitung County, southeastern Taiwan, where investigators speculated that low visibility misled the pilots -- instructor Maj. Wei Tzu-yuan and intelligence officer Capt. Chang Chia-chun -- when they calculated their altitude.

    Such misjudgment could make the aircraft fail to climb because of low speed, they said, explaining that unlike other fighters, the F-5F is not equipped with a computer-operated navigation system. As a result, the pilot has to be experienced in calculating the best time for the aircraft to pull up, they noted.

    Asked about recent reports claiming that the crash was caused by the air combat maneuvering instrumentation (ACMI) system used for air combat training falling off the plane, the investigators, who are all senior pilots, said this would be impossible.

    The system is nothing but an aviation recording device, they pointed out.

    To a jet fighter, bad weather only means there is low visibility whether or not there is rainfalls or a storm, said one of the pilots.

    According to the preliminary investigation report released by Air Force Chief of Staff Major Gen. Liu Chen-wu earlier in the day at the Legislative Yuan, the pilots of the F-5F are believed to have failed to pull up safely immediately after firing their guns and releasing bombs during a rehearsal for the Han Kuang 23 military exercises. The result was that the fighter stalled and crashed.

    During the several crucial seconds after the stall, he said, the pilots chose not to eject in order to steer the fighter away from an industrial zone in Hsinchu County, sacrificing themselves in an attempt to save lives. The fighter ended up crashing into a nearby military base in Hukou.

    Along with the two co-pilots, two Singaporean troops on the ground were also killed in the crash, which caused a fire at the barracks housing Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers participating in a training program. Nine other SAF personnel were injured, sustaining varying degrees of burns.

    The air force grounded all its F-5Fs and F-5Es for safety inspections after the accident.

(By Elizabeth Hsu)


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