Two U.S. F-18 fighters forced to land in Taiwan (update)

04/01/2015 05:57 PM
Photo courtesy of an eyewitness
Photo courtesy of an eyewitness

Update:Safety the reason for F-18 landing in Taiwan: U.S. militaryU.S. personnel to come to Taiwan to fix F-18 fighter: AIT

Taipei, April 1 (CNA) Two American F-18 fighters have made a rare landing at an Air Force base in Taiwan after one of the planes encountered mechanical problems, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense confirmed Wednesday.

The pilots landed their planes at Tainan Air Force Base at 1:19 p.m. on Wednesday after requesting permission to land because of a mechanical glitch in one of the two aircraft, the ministry said.

Mark Zimmer, the spokesman for the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the U.S.'s de facto embassy in Taiwan, could not provide further details on the planes, but he confirmed that the crew members and the planes are safe and thanked Taiwan for its assistance.

The United Daily News (UDN), a Chinese-language daily, reported that the two fighter jets took off from a U.S. base in Okinawa and were conducting a routine patrol above waters north of Taiwan before one of the planes encountered a glitch.

Asked to confirm this, Zimmer would only say they were "on a routine flight," without providing more information.

The AIT is still assessing the situation and deciding how to fix the problems, he said.

There were also rumors that an EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft was to land in Tainan along with the F-18s, but Ministry of National Defense spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he (羅紹和) denied this.

A 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 glitch 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.

(By Elaine Hou and Lu Hsin-hui)ENDITEM/ls

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