Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) traveled to Hualien County yesterday to supervise the continuing search effort for an F-16 jet that disappeared on Tuesday evening and its pilot, Colonel Chiang Cheng-chih (蔣正志), the Military News Agency said yesterday.
He also visited Chiang’s wife to convey regards and words of encouragement on behalf of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).
Chiang’s wife is a brave and outstanding military spouse, who has been staying at the Hualien Air Base since the incident to boost the troops’ morale, he said.
Photo: Military News Agency via CNA
The F-16 disappeared from radar screens at 6:07pm on Tuesday off the east coast of Taiwan, two minutes after taking off from Hualien Air Base.
Rainy weather on Saturday in the area hampered the search efforts, but members of the search team would and should strive to speed up their operation as soon as the weather improves, Yen said.
The military on Saturday said the general location of the missing jet’s flight data recorder had been confirmed about 9 nautical miles (16.7km) off the coast of Hualien County.
The signal was thought to originate about 1,000m below the surface, and some metal suspected of coming from the plane was also detected, air force chief of staff General Hsiung Hou-chi (熊厚基) said.
The next step would be to determine the recorder’s exact location through sonar and underwater imaging, he said.
General Hsieh Jih-sheng (謝日升), commander of the air force’s 5th Tactical Fighter Wing, on Saturday evening said the flight data recorder’s power system only lasts for 90 days and its signal begins to weaken after 30 days.
“The most important thing to do at this stage is to identify the exact location of the source of the signal and plan the salvage operation as soon as possible,” he said.
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