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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Military continues search for missing F-16, pilot

ROC Central News Agency

2008-03-04 23:34:39

    Taipei, March 4 (CNA) Military and coast guard personnel continued a search in waters 42 nautical miles southeast of the eastern county of Hualien late Tuesday for a missing air force F-16 jet fighter and its pilot.

    The single-seat fighter plane lost contact with air traffic controllers about 28 minutes after it took off from an air base in Hualien at 6:50 p.m. for a routine night flying training exercise, an air force spokesman said.

    The pilot, Maj. Ting Shih-pao, is believed to have ejected from the stricken plane, said Yang Feng-shen, the political warfare department chief of the Air Force 401 Wing, to which the ill-fated plane belonged.

    Ting had not made contact with the ground controllers before the plane disappeared from radar screens, nor had he made any distress call, Yang said.

    According to Yang, Ting, 34, could have ejected from the plane when the accident occurred. He has been listed as missing.

    The military has dispatched a C-130 transport, two S-70C submarine-hunting helicopters and naval vessels to comb the maritime areas where the U.S.-built fighter was feared to have crashed, Yang said, adding that coast guard units have also sent patrol ships to join the seach mission.

    As of the press time, no plane wreckage has been discovered, nor any signals from the plane's ejecting equipment has been detected, Yang said.

    Maj. Ting, who had fathered a son, had a flight record of 1,234.5 hours and his F-16 flight record already reached 400 hours, according to Yang.

(By Sofia Wu)

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