This isn’t the best week to be an F-5 driver…anywhere. Earlier in the week we showed you this video
of the wreckage of an Iranian F-5 that crashed during military exercises. Now, Taiwan has grounded its entire fleet of F-5s after losing two of them during what sounds like a low-level nighttime training flight gone awry.
From the BBC:
The jets disappeared off radar shortly after taking off from an air base in Hualien, eastern Taiwan.
The remains of three pilots have been recovered from the mountain crash site.
The military said it was investigating the accident but one official said it underlined Taiwan’s need to purchase a more modern air fleet.
The aircraft - one RF-5 surveillance plane and a two-seater F-5F trainer - took off at 19:39 (11:39 GMT) and disappeared from radar 13 minutes later, the defence ministry said.
“We were fishing at the seaside when suddenly airplanes flew over our heads, and a moment later we heard a loud bang and the whole mountain was set on fire,” one witness told the Taipei Times. “The explosion was very loud.”
Wreckage from the planes was later found in the mountains and on a highway.
Taiwanese defense officials are already trying to spin the accident (that, at first blush, sounds like it was caused by pilot error not a mechanical failure) to highlight the need for new F-16C/Ds — planes that the White House has decided not to sell the island nation.