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Taiwan loses two F-5E fighters in apparent mid-air collision

Taiwan Air Force F-5E
Photo: Taiwan defense ministry

One pilot was killed and another is missing following what appears to be a mid-air collision of two Taiwanese Air Force F-5E fighters during a training mission on March 22.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said the two aircraft disappeared from radar at around 15:19 p.m. local time. The incident occurred over the sea, off Pingtung county in South East Taiwan.

The fighter aircraft were part of a routine four-aircraft training mission.

The incident on Monday is the third such in the past six months. In November 2020, a Taiwanese F-16 crashed during a training mission, while another F-5 was lost in a fatal accident in late October.

According to local reports, Taiwan’s defense ministry grounded the F-5 fleet following the accident on Monday.

Taiwan’s fighter jets mishaps come as the island is facing increasing pressure from Chinese military aircraft flying in Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

China considers Taiwan one of its break-away provinces and views the island as its own territory.

Taiwan is constantly upgrading its armed forces to better position itself for defense against China, which never excluded reuniting the island with the mainland by force if necessary.

Taiwan’s Air Force is currently preparing to start flying upgraded F-16V fighters which come with active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, Link-16, and new electronic warfare capabilities. In addition to the F-5 and F-16, Taiwan also flies French Dassault Mirage 2000 fighters.