(Newswire.net— June 5, 2018) — The wreckage of a F-16 fighter jet that participated in defense wargames in Taiwan has been discovered by a hiker deep in the mountains outside Tai Pei, CNN cite the Taiwan’s official news agency CNA.
The ill-fated F-16 disappeared from radar during the first day of a military exercise that aims to simulate China attacking Taiwan, which is an annual military drill aimed at constant preparations for possible invasion of neighboring Peoples Republic of China (PRC).
A wide area search and rescue mission for the missing warplane was launched, only to be found by a mountain hiker who discovered the wreckage.
The pilot, 31-year-old Major Wu Yen-ting, was killed in the crash, the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense said Monday.
“The military is the guardian of the country and it is a high-risk career … We will always remember your sacrifices. Your spirit will be with us. We will always be proud of you,” a statement posted on Facebook said.
Circumstances of the crash are not clear, the weather was fair and warplane systems are routinely checked prior to flight. The investigation teams are collecting evidence. Meanwhile, all F-16 Falcon jets have been grounded.
A total of seven pilots have been killed in crashes involving eight F-16 Fighting Falcon military jets since 1998, CNA news agency reports.
According to the Defense Military “a combination of factors, including poor weather conditions and human error,” led to F-16 crashes in the last twenty years. The pilot killed in the latest accident at the five-day Han Kuang exercises was an “outstanding colleague” the Defense Minister Yen Teh-Fa described, praised his “loyalty and dedication to his duties.”
Han Kuang maneuvers come at a time of heightened tensions with Beijing since Taipei recently lost two diplomatic allies due the intense diplomatic activities of PRC.
The island of Taiwan sheltered capitalist oriented Chinese from the Republic of China (RC) after the civil war brought a communist regime to the territory of today’s China. Although Taiwan has no chair in the UN, the country enjoys the protection of Western countries, mainly the US who maintain a close relationship through The Relations Act signed in 1978.