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Taiwan air force F-16 crashes during training exercises

A Taiwan Air Force F-16 is believed to have crashed into a mountain during military drills in northern Taiwan.

The fighter jet went missing on Monday, June 4 after taking off from the air force base near Hualien shortly after 1 p.m. local time. Monday was the start of Taiwan’s biggest annual military drill, exercise Han Kuang.

The remains of the pilot, Major Wu Yanting, were discovered later around Wufen mountain near New Taipei City, Taiwan News reported.

“It is confirmed that the pilot has died in the line of duty … a commission will be set up later to investigate and clarify the cause of the incident,” the air force said in a statement.

Wu was also involved in the last F-16 incident in Taiwan, in 2013, when he parachuted to safety following a suspected mechanical failure, the air force said. He was a 2009 graduate of the Air Force Academy and had 736 hours flying the F-16.

Some pieces of the aircraft have been located, and a search is being conducted across 21 square miles, Taiwan News said.

In November, a Taiwan air force Mirage 2000 crashed during a training run off the island’s north coast. The incident prompted the air force to temporarily ground all of its Mirage aircraft. Neither the pilot, Ho Tzu-yu, or the aircraft have been recovered.

Han Kuang exercise

The five-day Han Kuang drill kicked off Monday with troops practicing thwarting a Chinese “invasion” by simulating surprise coastal assaults to reflect increased military threats from Beijing.

Taiwan’s defense ministry has said the main goal of the drill is to counter any future Chinese military mission to the island.

Han Kuang, which means ‘Han Glory,’ involves every branch of the Taiwanese military, and will incorporate civilian drones this year as part of its asymmetric anti-airbone exercise on Thursday.

The exercise will proceed in four stages: air-sea combat operations, anti-amphibious landing operations on the coasts of Taiwan, and finally joint anti-airbone exercises. It is Taiwan’s largest military exercise, and follows computer simulation exercises held earlier in the month.

With reporting from AFP

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