Air Force Fighter and Pilot Missing at Sea

[Picture: Ministry of Defense.]

Taiwan’s navy and air force today are continuing the search for a pilot who went down in the ocean 60 nautical miles north of Pengjia Islet yesterday evening.

Search and rescue operations were launched after contact with the Mirage 2000 was lost at 6:43pm, November 7. The aircraft was piloted by 28 year-old Captain Ho Tzu-yu (何子雨) of the 499th Tactical Fighter Wing, and was on a routine night flying training mission at the time.

Air Force commanders this morning announced that all Dassault Mirage 2000s have been grounded until investigations are made into the cause of the crash.

It is the fifth Mirage 2000 to crash since the fleet went into operation after delivery from France in 1998.

The Air Force said that Ho took off from Hsinchu Base at 6:09pm. After the accident, an S-70C helicopter was dispatched from Songshan Airport, and a P-3C antisubmarine airplane from Pingtung. A total of 17 sorties were flown during the night including E-2K airborne early warning (EWC) aircraft, C-130 Hercules, and Air Corps AS-365 helicopters.

The navy has dispatched 7 ships including a Keelung Class destroyer. The Coast Guard has also deployed 3 ships.

Currently, the search is being hampered by poor ocean conditions, with swells reported as 6 to 7 meters high and wind gusts of up to 10 on the Beaufort scale.

The missing pilot is said to have 718 hours experience flying jets, including 491 hours in the Mirage.

The Ministry of Defense issued a press release last night to counter false reports in the press that Ho had been rescued.

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