One pilot has been declared dead after being airlifted from the sea, and one is still missing after two F-5E fighters collided while flying off the coast of Pingtung County this afternoon, March 22.
According to the Ministry of National Defense (MND), four F-5E fighters of the 7th Flight Training Wing took off from Taitung Airbase at 2:30 pm on a routine training mission. At 3:06 pm two of the jets disappeared from radar screens around 2.6 kilometers from the coast at Mudan Township.
According to the MND, two of the fighter pilots ejected after a mid-air collision.
Military helicopters and coast guard vessels were dispatched to search for the two pilots, named Pan(潘), 28, and Lo (羅), 26, according to the National Rescue Command Center (NRCC).
Lo was found unconscious at 4:40 pm, and was airlifted to Taitung Mackay Memorial Hospital where he was declared dead at around 5:45 pm.
The Air Force has ordered all ROC Air Force planes, other than on-duty combat-ready aircraft, grounded for inspection as a safety precaution.
Premier Su Tseng-chang said that rescue of the missing pilot is the first priority and the search will not be interrupted by darkness. Premier Su expressed condolences to Lo’s family.
The incident comes just a little over four months after another fatal accident involving an F-5E from the same airbase. On October 29 last year, a pilot died after ejecting into the sea shortly after take off.
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