Taiwan estimates missing F-16 located 1,000 meters under the sea

Poor weather conditions in Hualien area hampering search operation for fighter jet

Salvage ship searching for missing F-16. 

Salvage ship searching for missing F-16.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — There are indications the F-16 fighter jet that went missing four days ago could be 1,000 meters under the sea, reports said Saturday (Nov. 21).

Colonel Chiang Cheng-chih (蔣正志) took off from Hualien Air Force Base in the American-built fighter Tuesday evening (Nov. 17) and disappeared from the radar screen two minutes later. Since then, an intensive search of an area of the Pacific 9 nautical miles (15 kilometers) northeast of Hualien has failed to make much headway, though there are reports of a signal from the plane’s black box.

While the data recorder's location may have been pinpointed at a depth of 1 km, the search teams have been unable to verify the theory due to rain and strong winds in the Hualien area, the Liberty Times reported Saturday. Tests showed a metal reaction under water in the area, indicating the presence of the black box, though they would have to wait for milder weather before confirming its location.

Saturday morning, a P-3C anti-submarine aircraft flew over the area, while a salvage ship and a minesweeper also collected information. However, the considerable depth and strong currents have prevented exploration equipment and underwater cameras from being sent down.