TAIPEI, TAIWAN – Taiwan’s Republic of China Air Force suspended combat training missions for its F-16 fleet on January 11, 2022 after one of its F-16V’s crashed into the sea on Tuesday, Reuters reports. The crash of the upgraded model of the F-16 was the latest in a series of accidents.
The RoCAF (Republic of China Air Force) F-16A Block 72V with serial no. 6650 (c/n TA-50) crashed around 3:26 PM local time at the Water Creek Range, approximately 14,5 miles west from Chiayi Air Base in southwest Taiwan. The fighter jet – also known as the F-16V – was operated by the 21st Tactical Fighter Group and had been upgraded recently to the V-version, with new sophisticated avionics and weapons systems.
The 4th Tactical Fighter Wing at Chiayi Air Base was the first unit in the world reaching Full Operational Capability (FOC) on the upgraded F-16A and F-16B Block 72V variant.
According to the Defence Ministry the fighter jet disappeared from radar after taking off from the air base for a training mission over a firing range at the coast of Taiwan.
President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan instructed “to further clarify the cause of the accident”, instead of putting effort in the Search and Rescue (SAR) mission, the president’s spokesman said.
According to witnesses the the fighter jet crashed into the sea. Both helicopters and ships were searching for the missing pilot, while combat training for the F-16 fleet has been suspended immediately.
The past years several RoCAF fighter jets crashed:
- In 2020 an F-16 on a routine training mission also disappeared from radar shortly after takeoff from Hualien Air Base, located at the eastcoast of Taiwan.
- In 2021 two F-5E fighter jets crashed into the sea after a mid-air collision during a training mission off the southeast coast.
Taiwan has a small but well trained air force, although it has had to scramble fighter jets many times the past 2 years, due to China sending military aircraft to the coast of Taiwan, in an area around the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands but sometimes also into the airspace between Taiwan and the Philippines.
The past years were pretty tense between China and Taiwan due to China’s claim that the democratic island of Taiwan actually is its own.
The accidents have not been linked in any way to these interceptions though.
Head photo: A RoCAF F-16A 6623 Flight Demonstration in Ching Chuang Kang Air Base on November 26, 2016. Photo: 玄史生 (CC0) via Wikimedia Commons
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