A pilot’s remains have been found washed ashore nearly a month after two Taiwanese fighter jets collided in mid-air.
Fishing port locals discovered the body of Pan Yingchen stuck in a crevice near Manzhou, Pingtung on Sunday, Apple News reports.
Daily underway searches had been carried out for the tragic pilot following the mid-air crash on March 22.
The two F-5E fighter jets crashed into the sea off the island’s southeastern coast during a training mission, killing Mr Yingchen and fellow pilot Lo Shanghua.
They were believed to gone down off the coast of Pingtung County, the third such crash in the past six months, local reports said.
The defence ministry deployed search and rescue helicopters and maritime patrol boats to the scene.
Firefighters from Taitung and Pingtung were also dispatched to conduct the search onshore.
The Central News Agency said that the air force grounded the F-5 fleet of jets that operates from the Chihhang airbase.
Local news reports said that the two fighter jets took off at 2:30pm from Taitung’s Zhi-Hang Air Base on a training mission and collided at about 3.06 pm.
It reported that the two pilots — identified by their surnames in the Taiwan News as Pan and Lo — ejected before their jets crashed into the sea.
The National Rescue Command Center (NRCC) soon dispatched search and rescue aircraft and ships to the scene.
“At 4:14, police found an ejection seat and parachute at the 73-kilometre mark of Provincial Highway 26, but no pilot was found nearby,” Taiwan News said.
“At 4:22 p.m., Lo was found in the sea with vital signs, but unconscious. He has since been transferred to the Taitung Mackay Memorial Hospital for emergency treatment.”
Lo has been pronounced dead while the other pilot, Pan, is still missing.
The US-built F-5 fleet has mostly been retired from the frontline activities, “though some are still used for training and as a back-up for the main fleet,” Reuters reported.
Another F-5 crashed during a training mission off the coast of Taitung in October last year killing its pilot.
This collision of two Taiwanese jets comes amid increasing pressure on the island’s armed forced to “intercept Chinese aircraft on an almost daily basis,” reports said.
Reuters said last January: “Taiwan’s top military official was among eight people killed after a helicopter carrying them to visit soldiers crashed in a mountainous area near the capital Taipei.
“The incidents have raised concern about both training and maintenance, but also the pressure the air force is under to respond to repeated Chinese flights near the island.”
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Taiwan’s defence ministry has warned Chinese aircraft are flying repeatedly in Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, seeking to wear out Taiwan’s air force, said reports.