Post-plane crash, lawmaker requests F-16C/Ds on 'humanitarian' grounds
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, Sept. 14 (CNA) After two military jets crashed in northeastern Taiwan Tuesday, a legislator urged the United States Wednesday to sell F-16C/D fighters to Taiwan as soon as possible so that the Air Force can take the old aircraft out of service.
The twin-seater F-5F, along with an RF-5E reconnaissance plane, crashed into the mountains near Dongao in Yilan County during a training drill late Tuesday. Body parts of the three pilots aboard the two aircraft were discovered early Wednesday.
The U.S.-built F-5F fighters began operations in Taiwan's Air Force in 1974, 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.
Besides further investigations and clarifications, the accident also placed the need for F-16C/D fighters back under the spotlight.
With the U.S. expected to make a decision soon, Kuomintang Legislator Lin Yu-fang urged China not to protest the sale, and the U.S. to sell the fighters to Taiwan as soon as possible.
"We hope Beijing and Washington can think it over on humanitarian grounds," Lin said. "If Washington can sell F-16C/Ds to us, we can let old, grandfathered aircraft retire and use newer fighter jets, such as the Indigenous Defense Fighter, in training."
In addition to maintaining the military balance across the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. now needs to take this accident into consideration, he said.
He added that the aging F-5 fighters can only retire if new F-16C/D fighters can join the fleet.
The accident on Tuesday was the sixth flight mishap involving F-5F fighters in seven years, according to military figures. Seven pilots were killed in those accidents. (By James Lee) ENDITEM/ly
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