Two Taiwanese F-5E fighter jets collided mid-air after taking off from an airbase in eastern Taiwan on Monday, official media reported. According to daily Focus Taiwan, the two pilots of the jets ejected but one of them succumbed.
Four F-5Es fighter jets had taken off from the eastern Taitung Airbase in Pingtung County at 2.30 p.m. (0630GMT) for a routine training mission. Two of them disappeared from the radar and the pilots ejected, the daily reported.
The collision is reported to have taken place 36 minutes after the takeoff. Taiwan’s National Rescue Command Center has dispatched coast guard vessels to search for the missing pilots.
Earlier, last year, a Taiwanese pilot was killed after his jet crashed during routine training, which was the second fatal air crash in the last three months. Pilot Chu Kuang-meng ejected from the F-5E jet after reporting an engine malfunction but succumbed later.
The crash comes as Taiwan’s ill-equipped air force is forced to meet an unparalleled level of hostility into its defense zone by Chinese fighter jets.
The F-5E is an older generation fighter with a design that dates back to the 1960s.