Fri, Jan 06, 2012 - Page 2 News List

US, Taiwan swap classic warplanes

Staff Writer, with CNA

A classic B-26 bomber, of the type formerly used in the Republic of China Air Force’s Black Bat squadron, is shown in this photo taken on Dec. 19 last year.

Photo: CNA

A classic B-26 bomber of the type once used by the Republic of China (ROC) Air Force has been shipped from the US to Taiwan, where it will be put on permanent display at a military history museum, a source said on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The disassembled US-built bomber arrived the previous day at Kaohsiung Harbor from Seattle in an airplane swap between Taiwan’s military and the Portland-based Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum, the source said, adding that the plane parts had been delivered to the ROC Air Force Academy in Greater Kaohsiung’s Gangshan District (岡山).

“The plane will be re-assembled on Jan. 9,” the source said.

The classic bomber was sent to Taiwan in exchange for two of Taiwan’s decommissioned air force warplanes — an F-5E and an F-5F, the source said, adding that the deal was struck through diplomatic channels.

The source said a senior executive of Paramount Business Jets, who is also a member of the Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum, proposed the swap to Taiwan’s military through the US Department of State.

He said a team of US technicians would help reassemble the bomber, a task expected to be completed in one day.

About three weeks later, US personnel are to help repaint the plane, he said, adding that the new livery would copy the old design used by the ROC Air Force’s Black Bat squadron.

The aircraft will then be put on permanent display at the Gangshan Air Force Military History Museum, he said.

The US staff will also help disassemble, repackage and deliver the F-5E and the F-5F to the US aviation museum, he said.

Chuck Yen, the Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum’s representative in Taiwan, said that as a professional pilot, he was happy to see the completion of the aircraft swap.

“The deal is very meaningful as it will help boost Taiwan-US friendship,” Yen said.

Yen said that many Black Bat squadron veterans are very excited to see the type of plane that they once operated.

The arrival of the classic bomber brings back memories of many stories about the Black Bat squadron officers who risked their lives to carry out intelligence--gathering missions in China, Yen said.

The squadron, formed in 1958, flew nighttime, low-altitude missions to detect radio waves as a precursor to the development of other, safer countermeasures.

The squadron flew a total of 838 reconnaissance missions until it was disbanded in 1974. All told, 15 of the bombers were shot down or lost in accidents, killing many of the crew.

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