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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Only 32 F-5Fs left in active fleet after latest crash

ROC Central News Agency

2011/09/14 12:09:51

Taipei, Sept. 14 (CNA) The Air Force now only has 32 F-5F fighters in its active fighter fleet after one of the planes crashed Tuesday during a nighttime training mission in northeastern Taiwan, according to military sources.

The twin-seater F-5F along with an RF-5E reconnaissance plane crashed into mountains near Dongao in Yilan County late Tuesday. Body parts from the three pilots aboard the two aircraft were discovered early Wednesday.

It was the sixth flight mishap involving an F-5F fighter in seven years, according to military figures. Seven pilots were killed in those accidents.

The U.S.-built F-5F fighters began operations in Taiwan's Air Force in 1970s, but they were later relegated to training and intelligence gathering missions after the Air Force acquired a new generation of jet fighters, such as F-16s and Mirage 2000-5s, in the 1990s.

According to military sources, F-5F twin-seater fighters perform well in low-altitude dogfights. The planes were often used to simulate enemy aircraft in training drills, but they are now mostly used in training missions because of their advanced age.

At its height, Taiwan had a fleet of 66 F-5Fs, but aside from depletion through accidents, others have been taken out of service, leaving 32 in service today. (By Tyon Lu and Sofia Wu) enditem/ls

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