Taiwan says F-16 fighter jet goes missing during training

The F-16 fighter jet takes off from Hualien Air Base on Tuesday

Taiwan today grounded its F-16 jet fleet, the most advanced in its air force, after one of them went missing on November 17.

The F16 fighter jet that went missing by being commanded by a 44-year-old pilot.

The choice of grounding the jets removes round 150 planes from Taiwan's skies.

This decision, which was announced by the local authorities on Wednesday, has now put more pressure on the limited fleet of the country to warn off the Chinese jets which have increased their activity in the recent few months.

The ministry said the F-16 disappeared from radar screens at 6:07 pm, just two minutes after taking off from the base. Two pilots died in the accidents and one was injured. This had prompted the authorities to do a similar grounding of all jets. The air drive has grounded all F16s for checks and she or he has instructed an investigation into the reason for the incident.

"I have asked the defense ministry not to relax a bit on defense and combat readiness to ensure national security", President Tsai Ing-wen told reporters.

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Hsieh Jih-Sheng, commander of the 5th Tactical Fighter Wing of Taiwan's Air Force, said on Tuesday that when the incident occurred, cloud cover was thin at 2,000 feet but thicker from 4,000-7,000 feet.

Taiwan has scrambled its planes at double the rate of past year to protect against China's increased incursions into its defensive zone.

There have been seven crashes involving F16s since Taiwan took delivery of the fighters purchased from the United States in 1997.

Analysts say Beijing's fly-bys are created to test the island's defence responses but also to wear out its fighters, which come closer to expiry with each sortie.

On January 2, a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed, killing eight passengers, including Taiwan's Chief of General Staff Shen Yi-ming.

Beijing has piled navy, financial, and diplomatic stress on Taiwan since President Tsai's election in 2016.

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