Fri, Nov 10, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Ministry to ask Japan for help in pilot search

Staff writer, with CNA

A photograph provided by the Ministry of National Defense yesterday shows rescuers searching for a Mirage 2000 fighter and its pilot, Ho Tzu-yu, who went missing off the northeast coast of Taiwan on Tuesday.

Photo: CNA, provided by the Ministry of National Defense

The government will ask Japan and other neighboring nations for help in the search for the Mirage 2000 fighter that went missing off the northeast coast of Taiwan two days ago, Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) told lawmakers yesterday.

The ministry is planning to expand the search area, Feng told a hearing of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee.

Given that the first 72 hours of any rescue mission are crucial to saving lives, the government is going to ask the Japan Coast Guard and others for assistance.

Asked about rumors that the pilot could have defected to China, Feng said he found such suggestions infuriating.

It was incredible that people might think a Republic of China (ROC) Air Force pilot would defect to China, he said, adding: “I will not tolerate such remarks.

The single-seat Mirage 2000 piloted by Captain Ho Tzu-yu (何子雨) disappeared from radar tracking 34 minutes after taking off from Hsinchu Air Base on Tuesday evening for a regular training exercise, the Air Force Command said.

The aircraft was about 90 nautical miles (166.7km) north-northeast of Keelung when it vanished from radar screens at 6:43pm, it said.

There has been no sign of the plane, wreckage or an oil slick, the ministry said yesterday.

The air force, navy and Coast Guard Administration sent helicopters, a frigate and other vessels to an area near Pengjia Islet (彭佳嶼) on Wednesday afternoon after an intermittent distress signal was picked up, apparently from the pilot, but found no sign of him.

Despite Feng’s comments, cross-strait pilot defections are not unheard of.

There were at least eight defections by China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force pilots between 1960 and 1989, when the pilots flew to Taiwan, while several others flew their planes to South Korea and eventually made their way to Taiwan.

Two ROC Air Force pilots defected to China in May 1968.

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