TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Taiwan F-16 sustained light damage to its exterior after its landing gear unexpectedly retracted during a pre-flight inspection on Thursday (Sept. 23).
On Thursday, 24 Chinese military planes entered the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, prompting the Air Force to send its own jet fighters, which included a number of F-16Vs. As one of them was preparing to take off from Chiayi Air Force Base, the pilot realized the landing gear warning light had turned on, Liberty Times reported.
He then had the ground crew chief check the issue and during the inspection, the landing gear began to retract due to a safety latch having been removed.
Air Force Command pointed out the cause of the incident was due to carelessness by the ground crew. It added that it has taken multiple measures to strengthen its professional abilities through personnel training to prevent similar incidents from happening again, per Liberty Times.
Taiwan has been retrofitting its fleet of 141 F-16A/B fighter jets with new electronic systems to modernize them to the F-16V variant. The upgrades will be completed by 2023, but the first group of 42 is ready to be commissioned into the Air Force in November.
The upgraded aircraft will be stationed at Chiayi Air Force Base. Additionally, Taiwan purchased 66 new F-16Vs from the U.S., and delivery is expected to begin in 2023.