IDF jet fighters to undergo special inspection
ROC Central News Agency
By Sofia Wu
Taipei, Oct. 20 (CNA) The locally developed Ching-kuo indigenous defense fighters (IDFs) will undergo special inspections after one of them apparently crashed on a training mission over the island county of Penghu Monday, Air Force authorities said in a statement.
The special inspections will be completed in the shortest period of time, said the statement, issued by Chingchuankang Airbase in the central county of Taichung.
Debris from IDF jet fighter No. 1615, including a safety jacket, a flight helmet, a seat and a piece of the fighter's fuselage, was recovered from waters near Maoyu, or Cat Islet -- an uninhabited isle of the Penghu island group, the statement said.
Air Force Commanding General Peng Sheng-chu rushed to Chingchuankang Airbase Monday afternoon to console the family of the two pilots aboard the plane, the statement said, adding that Peng assured their family members that the military will make every possible effort to search for the pilots.
"We'll never give up so long as there is a glimmer of hope," Peng was quoted as having said.
The airbase has set up a special project control center responsible for the search and rescue mission, the statement said, adding that many naval and coast guard ships and aerial rescue forces have been mobilized for the mission. The all-out search was still going on as of press time.
The IDF fighter disappeared from radar screens while on a training mission over Penghu in the Taiwan Strait Monday morning.
The jet fighter took off from Chingchuangkang at 9: 15 a.m. for a bombing training mission and disappeared 30 minutes later near Huayu island in Penghu County, Air Force authorities said.
The two officers onboard the plane, pilot Capt. Ku Chih-bin and co-pilot Capt. Chen Jian-ting, have since remained unaccounted for.
IDFs, developed by Taiwan in the 1980s with assistance from the U.S., together with U.S.-built F-16s and French-made Mirage 2000-5s, form the mainstay of Taiwan's second generation Air Force fleet.
Taiwan has 130 IDFs, which are stationed mainly on airbases in the western areas of the country, across the Taiwan Strait from China, because of their quick takeoff time.
Monday's apparent accident was the fifth mishap to befall an IDF fighter since the model was introduced to Taiwan's Air Force in 1988. According to military authorities, IDFs have the best availability in the country's air force fleet.
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