Wed, Oct 07, 2009 - Page 4 News List

MND confirms report of missile transport mishap

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday that the air force had received NT$6.1 million (US$190,000) in insurance compensation after eight AIM-7 Sparrow missiles were damaged during transport by the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) in March 2007.

“The damage occurred because of handling errors made by the train operator. The compensation was paid by Ming Tai Insurance Co and the case was closed last year,” ministry Spokesman Major General Yu Sy-tue (虞思祖) said in response to a story in yesterday’s Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper).

The report said the incident took place at Hsinying Station on March 13, when the TRA was transporting the eight missiles from Taichung to Pingtung for inspection.

Train operators reversed a locomotive to connect to the train carrying the missiles, but it was traveling too fast when it hit the train and the missiles bumped against each other, damaging the rocket propulsion systems.

All eight systems were replaced by air force technician teams and the damaged parts were disposed of by Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology.

Meanwhile, the air force yesterday denied reports that an IDF jetfighter pilot experienced a malfunction with the plane’s navigation system during a training course and almost landed at the wrong airport on April 7.

“What you read in the newspaper was not quite accurate,” Yu said, referring to a report in yesterday’s Chinese-language Apple Daily that said the IDF pilot mistook the Air Force Academy’s runway in Gangshan, Kaohsiung County, for Tainan Air Force Base and began his approach after finishing a training flight.

The report said both air base towers discovered the pilot’s error and helped him navigate the plane back to his base in Tainan.

“The pilot experienced a malfunction with his navigation system and was closer to Gangshan, but he was not attempting to land there,” said Colonel Ko Hao (柯濠), a deputy inspector for the Air Force Command Headquarters.

Ko said that the pilot began to take care of the malfunction during his return to Tainan and missed the turn that he should have made to begin his approach to Tainan base.

Tower controllers immediately discovered that the pilot had missed his approach point and asked him to turn around. By then, the jet was close to Gangshan.

“The runways at Tainan base and the academy in Gangshan are parallel, and maybe that caused the misunderstanding,” Ko said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA

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