Two US F/A-18s landed at an air force base in Tainan yesterday after one of the planes encountered mechanical problems, the Ministry of National Defense said.
The pilots landed at Tainan Air Force Base at 1:19pm after requesting permission to land because of a mechanical glitch in one of the aircraft, the ministry said.
The Civil Aeronautics Administration also confirmed that it had received distress signals from the F/A-18s.
Photo copied by Wang Chun-chung, Taipei Times
Records from the Air Navigation and Weather Service (ANWS), which is responsible for guiding the landing and takeoffs of civilian and military aircraft, showed that a fighter jet had sent signal code “7700” at about 1pm, meaning that the aircraft had encountered an emergency.
As the jets were near airspace over southern Taiwan, the ANWS asked its Kaohsiung Aviation Facilities Station to help guide the aircraft to the Tainan base.
There was no immediate word on where the US fighter jets were coming from or where they were headed.
“We can confirm that two US F/A-18s were traveling together on a routine flight today when one of the aircraft experienced a mechanical problem that required an immediate precautionary landing,” American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) spokesman Mark Zimmer said in response to a Taipei Times inquiry.
“Both aircraft landed in Tainan. Both aircraft and their crew are safely on the ground. We appreciate Taiwanese authorities’ allowing the aircraft to land in Taiwan when this emergency occurred, and accommodating the aircraft while any repairs take place,” he said.
The AIT is still assessing the situation and deciding how to fix the problems, he told the Central News Agency.
The Chinese-language United Daily News reported that the jets had taken off from a US base in Okinawa, Japan, and were conducting a routine patrol above waters north of Taiwan.
A military official, who confirmed that jets from the Republic of China Air Force 443rd Tactical Fighter Wing assisted the fighters with their landing, said he expected the US to send a team to handle any needed repairs, because the air force does not have any F/A-18 aircraft and does not have the ability to repair or maintain the aircraft.
There also were rumors that an EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft was to land in Tainan along with the F-18s, but ministry spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) denied this.
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