Taiwan Grounds F-5E fleet After Fatal Mid-air Collision

  • Our Bureau
  • 06:07 PM, March 22, 2021
  • 2790
Taiwan Grounds F-5E fleet After Fatal Mid-air Collision
Taiwanese air force F-5E

Two Taiwanese F-5E jets collided in mid-air today killing the pilot of one and another missing off the coast of Pingtung County, some 37.5 nautical miles southeast of their base.

Rescue mission is currently underway for the other pilot after their two Taiwan Air Force F-5E fighter jets collided and crashed into the ocean.

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) has deployed search and rescue Black Hawk helicopters and maritime patrol boats to the scene, while firefighters from Taitung and Pingtung have been dispatched as well to carry out a search onshore.

Following the incident, Taiwanese Air Force has grounded its entire fleet of over 200 F-5E jets, various reports said. However, this information could not be confirmed from the MND. Taiwan manufactured 242 single-seat F-5s and 66 two-seaters under license from Northrop Corp. between 1973 and the mid 1980s.

The incident occurred at At 2:30 p.m. local time on Monday when four F-5E fighter jets took off from Taitung's Zhi-Hang Air Base on a training mission, according to the MND. However, at 3:06 p.m., two of the jets collided with their two pilots, surnamed Pan and Lo ejected over the sea.

At 4:14 P.M., police found an ejection seat and parachute at the 73-kilometer mark of Provincial Highway 26, but no pilot was found nearby. At 4:22 p.m., Lo was found unconscious in the sea. Rescuers took him to hospital where he was pronounced dead. Pan is still missing, and the search for him is still ongoing.

The mid-air collision marks the eighth serious accident involving F-5E fighter jets over the past 20 years, with the most recent being the crash of an F-5E during a training mission off the coast of Taitung, which killed its pilot, Captain Chu Kuan-meng in October 2020.

Taiwan Grounds F-5E fleet After Fatal Mid-air Collision
F-5E Jets crash site: Taiwanese MND image
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