TAIPEI --- Taiwan’s air force has grounded its F-16 fleet after losing a plane on a training mission, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Wednesday, the second loss of a fighter jet in less than a month at a time of increased missions to intercept Chinese aircraft.
While Taiwan’s air force is well trained and well equipped, mostly with U.S.-made equipment, it is dwarfed by China’s. Beijing claims the democratic island as its own and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under Chinese control.
Last month, Taiwan’s defence minister said nearly $900 million had been spent this year on scrambling the air force against Chinese incursions, describing the pressure they are facing as “great”.
Late Tuesday, Taiwan’s air force said a U.S.-built F-16 vanished shortly after taking off from the Hualien air base on the east coast on a routine training mission.
That followed the crash of an F-5 - a jet which first entered service in Taiwan in the 1970s - in late October. Speaking to reporters, Tsai said the air force had already grounded the F-16 fleet for checks. (end of excerpt)
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