Sat, Feb 04, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Air force trainer plane crashes in Pingtung County

TURBULENCE:The latest crash and similar incidents in the past have sparked calls for the US to sell more modern jets to Taiwan to replace its aging air fleet

Staff Writer, with CNA and AFP

Two air force officers sustained minor injuries yesterday when two AT-3 trainer planes belonging to the Taiwanese Air Force Academy collided in Pingtung County, firefighters said later yesterday.

The firefighters said the two men were rushed to hospital for treatment. One sustained bone fractures, while the other injured his hand.

The Air Force Academy said the training craft took off from Gangshan (岡山), Greater Kaohsiung, at 3:10pm for a routine training mission and one crashed in Fangliao (枋寮), Pingtung County, at 4:25pm.

The second plane, which was also carrying two pilots, returned to base safely, the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement.

The pilots of the downed jet managed to eject before it crashed. They parachuted to the ground with minor injuries and were rushed to a local hospital, the ministry said.

The academy identified the two officers as First Lieutenant Tseng Kuo-wei (曾國維) and Lieutenant Colonel Chang Kuo-chiang (張國強).

Fifty-six-year-old farmer Huang Shui-lin (黃水霖) said he was riding on his scooter nearby when he saw a man lying by the roadside and another about 50m away in a thicket.

He called 119 as he helped one of the men out of his parachute gear, Huang added.

The cause of the crash was under investigation, the academy said.

The crash and similar incidents in the past have sparked calls for the US to sell the nation new planes to replace its aging fleet.

Taipei applied in 2007 to buy 66 F-16C/D jets, which have better radars and more powerful weapons systems than the F-16A/Bs currently in use, as a response to China’s growing military muscle.

However, Washington last year announced that it would help the nation upgrade its existing F-16A/Bs rather than sell it the more up to date jets.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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