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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

All Air Force planes except F-5s to resume flights soon

ROC Central News Agency

03/30/2021 02:58 PM

Taipei, March 30 (CNA) All Taiwan military aircraft, except for the F-5 fighter jets, will resume operations before the end of the month, after being grounded in the wake of a fatal crash last week, Air Force Chief of Staff Huang Chih-wei (黃志偉) said Tuesday.

Over the next two days, the Air Force's combat, surveillance and transport aircraft will resume flights, including the F-16s, Mirage 2000-5s, Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) jets, C-130H Hercules and P-3C Orions, Huang said at a press event in Taipei.

According to the Ministry of National Defense, the Air Force has grounded all military aircraft for safety checks, except those on guard or combat readiness missions, following a March 22 accident in which two F-5E jets collided in mid-air off Pingtung County during a training mission.

The F-5s will remain grounded until April 6 or 7, pending safety checks and pilot training and psychological counseling, Huang said at the press conference.

Taiwan's fleet of 43 F-5 fighter jets comprises the single-seat F-5E model and the twin-seat F-5Fs.

Meanwhile, Huang said, the search is still on for Captain Pan Ying-chun (潘穎諄), one of the pilots in the fatal March 22 mid-air collision.

Pan is believed to have ejected from his aircraft, as did Lieutenant Lo Shang-hua (羅尚樺), who was flying the other plane and was found at sea on the day of the crash but was pronounced dead after he was taken to hospital.

Since the crash, a 300-strong search and rescue team has found some personnel gear and aircraft debris but has not yet located Pan, according to Huang.

(By Matt Yu and Ko Lin)

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