TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s fleet of F-5E Tiger fighter jets has resumed operations, with the first of the aircraft and one piloted by the commander of the nation's air force flying from Taitung's Chihang base on Saturday morning (Nov. 14).
The Taiwanese Air Force had grounded all F-5E fighters in its seventh wing after one of them malfunctioned and crashed to the ground during a routine flight on Oct. 29. It fell in the waters near Chihang (志航) base less than two minutes after takeoff, resulting in the death of the pilot, Captain Chu Kuan-meng (朱冠甍).
After a thorough inspection of all F-5E aircraft was completed on Nov. 4, the jets were cleared to resume flying. A single F-5E, piloted by Air Force Commander Hsiung Hou-chi (熊厚基), took off at 8:50 a.m. on Saturday and landed at 9:30 a.m. after executing a series of maneuvers, Military News Agency reported.
Upon landing, Hsiung emphasized the main purpose of the morning flight was to demonstrate to the public the F-5E fighter is a trustworthy aircraft. Air Force personnel are committed to defending the nation’s airspace and safeguarding their homeland, he said.
The pilot pointed out that after Captain Chu’s unfortunate death, everyone at Chihang base had focused on day and night time inspections of all fleet aircraft. Technicians checked the engine systems, ejection systems, fuel systems, and rust protection levels.
"I believe the F-5 is safe and capable of flying, so I am willing to take the lead in flying," Hsiung said. He pointed out the F-5E has defended Taiwan’s airspace for more than 35 years.
The Air Force will hold a special ceremony for Captain Chu at Chihang base Tuesday morning (Nov. 17).