Taiwan Air Force F-16 makes hard landing in Hawaii; no one injured

06/07/2022 02:23 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, June 7 (CNA) An F-16 fighter jet belonging to Taiwan's Air Force made a hard landing at an airport in Honolulu due to a landing gear malfunction, a military source confirmed to CNA on Tuesday. No one was injured.

The source confirmed the incident after Hawaii media reported the mishap that took place at around 2:45 p.m. on Monday, leading to a runway at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport being temporarily closed.

A Hawaii State Transportation Department spokesperson said the jet made a hard landing and came to rest on its nose after its landing gear did not deploy, according to a Hawaii News Now report, which also cited sources as saying the aircraft came from Arizona.

Some Taiwanese media later reported that the F-16 belonged to Taiwan's Air Force and had been on a training mission at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.

In Taipei, the Ministry of National Defense refused to comment on the report Tuesday, but a military source confirmed to CNA that the jet was owned by Taiwan's Air Force.

The jet was flying from Arizona back to Taiwan, and the incident took place when the jet was making a stopover in Hawaii to refuel, the source said, adding that the aircraft did not sustain major damage.

No other information was immediately available on how long the aircraft will be in Hawaii and what repairs need to be made before it can return to the skies.

The F-16 was one of around 10 F-16A/Bs currently being used on a training mission with Luke Air Base's 21st Fighter Squadron, as part of a Taiwan-U.S. training program that began in the 1990s when Taiwan purchased its first batch of the jets from the U.S.

The jet was flying back to Taiwan to be upgraded into the more advanced F-16V format as part of the Air Force's ongoing retrofitting project launched in 2016, the source said.

The program involves a retrofit of all 141 of Taiwan's F-16 A/Bs into F-16Vs, which are equipped with more advanced avionics, including APG-83 scalable agile beam radar, a helmet mounted cueing system, and other flight management and electronic warfare systems.

Though the training program at Luke Air Force Base has existed since the 1990s, the U.S. has rarely discussed it until recently due to the sensitivity of the issue.

In 2019, the then Donald Trump administration made public the program when announcing a round of arms sales to Taiwan.

A source familiar with national security matters then told CNA that the Trump administration's public announcement that Taiwanese military pilots were being trained in the U.S. was a departure from past practice.

Given that the U.S. usually only trains the standing forces of major allies, such as NATO members, its decision to make public training of Taiwanese fighter pilots signaled its close military ties with Taiwan, the source said.

(By Matt Yu and Joseph Yeh)

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