Two more Navy boats join search for missing Mirage jet, pilot

2017/11/12 18:38:40 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defense ROC

Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defense ROC

Taipei, Nov. 12 (CNA) Taiwan's Navy on Sunday dispatched two more vessels to help search for a Mirage-2000 fighter jet that disappeared on Nov. 8 during a regular training exercise, the Ministry of National Defense said Sunday.

The aircraft, piloted by Captain Ho Tzu-yu (何子雨), took off at about 6:09 p.m. on Nov. 7 from its base in Hsinchu but lost contact with the control tower 34 minutes later and has not been located since, according to the Air Force.

At the time of its disappearance, the aircraft was estimated to be some 60 nautical miles off Pengjia Islet, north of Taiwan, the Air Force said.

Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) has assigned the oceanic survey ship the Ta Kuan and a Northrop Grumman-built Osprey-class coastal minehunter to join the search and rescue mission that was being carried out by scores of other ships and aircraft, according to the ministry.

The two vessels were scheduled to join the search Saturday but were deterred by bad weather, the ministry said.

Speaking after an inspection of the Joint Operations Command Center (JOCC) in Taipei, Feng said weather conditions at sea near where the Mirage-2000 was last seen had improved and the two vessels would join the search efforts that day, according to the ministry.

Despite strong winds on Saturday night, an EC 225 helicopter from the Air Force managed to airdrop a set of underwater acoustic receivers and a number of operators onto a Cheng Kung-class frigate at sea that was part of the search and rescue mission,.

As of Sunday, there were 91 military aircraft and vessels searching for the pilot and the aircraft, which were from the Hsinchu-based 499th Tactical Fighter Wing.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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