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Air Force detects signal that may be from missing Mirage-2000

2017/11/13 20:45:59

Photo courtesy of Ministry of National Defense

Taipei, Nov. 13 (CNA) The Republic of China (Taiwan) Air Force said Monday that it has detected a signal similar to what would be sent from the black box of the Mirage-2000 fighter jet that went missing off northeastern Taiwan last Tuesday and has yet to be found.

The Air Force said that following a week-long search, its rescue team detected a signal that could have been sent by the flight data recorder (FDR) of the missing aircraft. FDR is more commonly known as the black box.

The signal was detected in the vicinity of where the jet disappeared from radar screens on the night of Nov. 7, but the military was still not sure it was indeed sent by the Mirage-2000 fighter.

Air Force Lieutenant General Chang Yen-ting (張延廷) told CNA that the signal's wavelength was similar to that sent by the black box of a Mirage-2000.

But such signals are regularly interfered with by ocean currents and the seabed, and the rescue team still had to locate where the signal was sent from before reclaiming the device to determine if it is indeed from the missing plane's black box, Chang said.

The aircraft, piloted by Captain Ho Tzu-yu (何子雨), took off at about 6:09 p.m. on Nov. 7 on a regular nighttime training exercise before losing contact with the control tower at 6:43 p.m. about 90 nautical miles north-northeast of Keelung.

Despite an intensive search since the night of the plane's disappearance, rescue teams have failed to locate the missing aircraft or its pilot to date.

As of Monday, there were 93 military aircraft searching for the pilot and the aircraft, which were from the Hsinchu-based 499th Tactical Fighter Wing, according to the Air Force.

The Air Force's statement came after Lee Wen-yu (李文玉), a former Air Force test pilot who is now a civilian airline pilot, said in a post on his Facebook page earlier Monday that he detected similar emergency locator transmitter signals twice, on Nov. 10 and Nov. 12, while flying over waters where Ho's plane was last seen on radar.

Lee suggested that the signals could have been sent by Ho's Mirage-2000.

He also wrote that other civilian plane pilots also picked up 121.5 MHz SOS signals off Keelung "after the plane went missing," and they thought the military rescue team must have picked up the same signals.

(By Joseph Yeh)