Taiwan Sees Third Fighter Jet Crash in the Last Six Months

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Taiwan Sees Third Fighter Jet Crash in the Last Six Months

It is unclear what is behind the crashes, but it could simply be errors due to the increased strain on Taiwan air force as China steps up it air incursions into Taiwanese airspace.

A pair of Taiwanese fighter jets crashed into each other Monday—the third crash involving the Taiwan air force in the last six months, Reuters reported, from Taipei.

The two jets were air force F-5E fighters, which collided in mid-air before crashing into the sea. One of the two pilots was air-lifted to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, while the other pilot remains missing.

The crash moved Taiwan to ground its F-5E fleet and suspend training missions.

The Monday crash followed earlier crashes by an F-5 in October, and an F-16 in November, both of which killed a single pilot. The previous January, the territory’s top military official, Air Force General Shen Yi-ming, was killed in a helicopter crash, along with even others, while on the way to visit soldiers.

The South China Morning Post also reported on the Monday crash, stating that the two pilots “went missing from radar around 3pm, about 1.4 nautical miles from the fishing town of Mudan in Pingtung county.”

Channel News Asia reported that the two jets were among four jets that had taken off about thirty minutes earlier as part of what was described as a routine training mission.

The coverage was consistent in noting that Taiwan is under increased pressure to intercept Chinese planes.

The Taiwanese Air Force, as reported by The National Interest last month, is in line to receive sixty-six new F-16 fighters, to replace its older aircraft. That $8 billion jet purchase was approved by the Trump Administration, over the strong objection of China. Taiwan has long had difficulty obtaining such jets from abroad, due to pressure from China.

The two previous presidents had both rejected such requests from Taiwan. However, Taiwan may eventually come to regret the purchase.

“Whereas Taiwan’s previous strategy focused on fighting across the entire Taiwan Strait and defeating the enemy through attrition, the new concept divides Taiwan’s defense operations into two phases, both closer to Taiwan’s shores where the lines of communication are short and Taiwan’s forces can benefit from land-based air denial and more effective surveillance and reconnaissance,” we wrote.

Another National Interest piece by Caleb Larson, published earlier this week, indicated that Taiwan’s new F-16Vs could make China “think twice” about a potential invasion.

In addition, the weapons Taiwan received last year also included eleven HIMARS mobile rocket launchers, 135 Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) Missiles, as well as a total of six MS-110 Reconnaissance Pods.

“Although the three deals, approved by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, were deemed not enough to alter the military balance of power in the region, they would indeed augment the island nation’s ability to fend off a potential Chinese invasion force via the Formosa Strait,” Larson wrote.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters.