Sun, Sep 28, 2003 - Page 1 News List

IDF plane crashes after suffering mechanical failure

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

A twin-engine Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) warplane crashed into the sea off Penghu yesterday, but the two pilots were uninjured, according to the defense ministry.

This is the third time an IDF plane has crashed since the locally-built fighters went into service in 1993.

It is the second time one has crashed this year. The first accident took place in April when a twin-seat IDF plane crashed into a mountain in Nantou during a regular training flight. An investigation into the crash showed that the accident was caused by pilot error.

A single-seater version crashed into the sea off Taichung in 1995 after developing engine problems. The pilot ejected safely.

A prototype of the plane also crashed into the sea off Taichung during a test flight before the IDFs became operational. The pilot in that incident was killed.

According to air force spokesman Huang Ching-hung (黃清洪), the fighter took off from the base at 12:35pm for a routine training mission and developed mechanical problems at 12:54pm off Penghu's Makung island.

Lieutenant Colonel Wang Pei-chiang (王培疆) and Captain Tsai Kun-nan (蔡崑男) were forced to eject and were rescued by two Chinese fishing boats at 1:25pm, Huang said.

They were later air-lifted by the Seagull helicopter rescue team based in Chiayi to a hospital in Tainan.

The cause of the mechanical failure is being investigated, he added.

The air force said yesterday that it was grounding all of its IDF jets while the investigation continued.

During a press conference yesterday afternoon, Wang and Tsai said that they parachuted out of the plane just before it crashed.

"Two fishing trawlers approached us, and we then found out they were Chinese," Wang said.

The fishermen then picked them out of the water and handed them over to the coast guard.

"We're very happy about the captains of the Chinese ships providing unconditional humanitarian assistance. We want to express our thanks to them," Huang said.

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