A Republic of China (ROC) Air Force team was yesterday set to depart for France to help investigate a jet fighter crash in which a Taiwanese pilot died during training operations, ROC Air Force officials said.
The ROC Air Force also said it has set up a task force in Taiwan to deal with the accident in which Lieutenant Colonel Wang Tung-yi (王同義), 37, died during training at the Luxeuil-les-Bains airfield in eastern France on Wednesday.
Wang was participating in a training operation involving four Mirage 2000-5s, the French Defense Ministry said.
Meanwhile, Chief of Staff of the French Air Force General Denis Mercier issued a statement expressing his sympathies to Wang’s family.
The French military described Wang as an experienced pilot who had logged 1,500 hours of flight time in the Mirage 2000-5.
Taiwan sends a pilot to France to undergo a two-year training program every two years as part of an arms sales package in which Taiwan purchased 60 Mirage 2000-5s from France in 1992,
Wang arrived in France in 2010 and was set to finish the program next month, French Air Force officials said.
His wife and daughter were also in France with him, they added. Asked whether the accident will affect the training exchange program, the French Air Force said the program is included in the arms deal and “will remain unchanged.”
Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Wu Wan-chiao (吳萬教), director of the ROC Air Force Command Headquarters’ Department of Political Warfare, said the ROC Air Force had suspended all flights of the French-built Mirage to conduct checks and maintenance work.
The flight suspension will not be lifted until the reasons for the Mirage 2000-5 crash have been identified, Wu said, adding that the black box of the crashed warplane had been recovered.
According to a Radio France Internationale report on Wednesday, locals said they saw a “ball of fire” crash into a wooded area about 500m from a group of houses that morning.