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U.S. personnel to come to Taiwan to fix F-18 fighter: AIT

2015/04/02 12:06:47

Safety the reason for F-18 landing in Taiwan: U.S. military

Taipei, April 2 (CNA) The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said Thursday that U.S. personnel will arrive in Taiwan soon to repair a mechanical problem in one of two American F-18 fighters that made a precautionary landing at an air force base in Taiwan a day earlier.

The U.S. maintenance personnel and parts will arrive in Taiwan on a C-130 transport plane, said Mark Zimmer, spokesman of the AIT, the U.S. de facto embassy in Taiwan. Coming from Japan, they are expected to arrive "this evening at the earliest," he added.

It was not immediately clear how long it will take to fix the aircraft, he added.

A Taiwan Air Force official said that the maintenance team is expected to arrive at 2 p.m.

Zimmer also confirmed that the two F-18s took off from a U.S. base in Japan Wednesday and were "going to a training exercise in Southeast Asia." He declined to offer more specifics.

In the United States, a Pentagon official confirmed that two F-18C Hornets from U.S. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323, based at Kadena Airfield in Japan, made a precautionary landing at an airfield in southwestern Taiwan.

"There were no injuries, and no damage to either aircraft," said Maj. Paul L. Greenberg, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Marine Corps. "The cause of the mechanical issue which led to the precautionary landing is currently being examined."

Once the necessary maintenance has been performed, both aircraft will depart Taiwan, Greenberg said.

The F-18 pilots landed their planes at Tainan Air Force Base in southern Taiwan at 1:19 p.m. Wednesday after requesting permission to do so because of a mechanical glitch in one of the aircraft, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense said.

A Taiwanese military official, who confirmed that the Air Force's 443rd wing assisted the fighters with their landing, said he expected the U.S. to send a team to handle the issue because Taiwan does not have any F-18 fighters in its fleet and does not have the ability to repair or maintain the aircraft.

The landing was a rarity because the United States does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and its military aircraft do not use air bases in Taiwan.

Since the news broke, many military fans have flocked to areas surrounding the Tainan base, hoping to get a glimpse of the F-18s and capture photos of the fighters departing Taiwan.

(By Elaine Hou, Tony Liao and Yang Sz-ruei)