Taiwan F-16 fighter jet loses canopy during training mission; pilot safe
Taipei, Aug. 11 (CNA) One of Taiwan's F-16V fighter jets was able to land safely at Chiayi Air Base on Wednesday, after its canopy fell off suddenly during a training mission, according to the Air Force.
The pilot remained calm during the incident, which occurred shortly after takeoff from the airbase in southern Taiwan at 7:29 a.m., and he managed to land the jet at 7:36 a.m., without sustaining any injuries, the Air Force Command Headquarters said in a press release.
The military has launched an investigation into what caused the jet's canopy - the glass enclosure around the pilot - to detach without warning while the aircraft was on a training mission, the Air Force said.
Asked to comment on the incident, Chang Yen-ting (張延廷), a retired Air Force lieutenant general and pilot, told CNA it could have been caused by either technical problems with the canopy itself or pilot error, meaning the pilot may not have locked the canopy properly before takeoff.
All Air Force pilots, however, are trained to deal with such an eventuality, in which a canopy falls off in midair and they are suddenly exposed to frigid air, vicious winds, and deafening noise, Chang said.
In 2016, the Air Force launched a program to retrofit all of its 141 F-16 A/Bs as F-16Vs, which are equipped with more advanced avionics, including the APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar, Helmet Mounted Cueing System, as well as other flight management and electronic warfare systems.
In addition to the retrofit program that is still ongoing, Taiwan also purchased 66 new F-16Vs from the United States, and delivery is expected to start in 2023.
According to military source familiar with Wednesday's incident, the F-16V was one of the upgraded F-16As, and the Air Force has later recovered the canopy at Chiayi Air Base.
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