Debris from missing F-16V found, but no sign of pilot

Rescuers found debris belonging to a missing Air Force F-16V fighter on Wednesday morning but there were no signs of its pilot, according to the National Rescue Command Center (NRCC).

What appeared to be debris from an aircraft and aircraft tires were first spotted by a military UH-60M helicopter at around 10:48 a.m. Wednesday, the NRCC said, without identifying where the objects were seen.

The military later confirmed at 11:19 a.m. that the debris belonged to the jet with the serial number 6650 piloted by Captain Chen Yi (??).

Rescuers have not located Chen, however, an NRCC press release said, as the search for the pilot continued for a second day.

As of 7 a.m. Wednesday, three ships and 66 rescue and search personnel had been mobilized and 10 air sorties had been deployed to search waters from south of Yunlin's Mailiao Township to north of Chiayi's Budai Township, the statement said.

Chen's jet disappeared from radar screens at 3:23 p.m. on Tuesday, about 30 minutes after it took off from southern Chiayi Air Base on a routine training mission with one other aircraft.

Weather conditions were good and there was high visibility, according to the military.

The jet was seen by Chiayi residents crashing into the sea near the Aogu Wetlands in Chiayi's Dongshi Township, and a pilot in another jet and a ground controller also confirmed that Chen's plane abruptly nosedived into the ocean after the aircraft simulated missile launches.

An ad hoc team has since been formed to investigate the cause of the incident, according to the Air Force, and Taiwan's F-16 fighter jet fleet has been grounded for safety checks.

Chen, 28, had logged 324.05 flying hours, with 62.2 hours clocked flying the F-16 model, before the crash.

Meanwhile, the accumulated flying time of the jet was 3,415.05 hours, with 401.4 of those hours conducted after it was upgraded to the F-16V format.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel