A Taiwanese air force jet crashed into waters off the island’s east coast during a routine flight on Monday, the second crash of its kind in three months. Taiwan’s defence ministry said the pilot of the Mirage 2000-5 fighter jet ejected to safety after reporting mechanical problems and was rescued. An air force spokesman said all Mirage 2000-5s would be grounded immediately for inspections. He also said the 38-year-old pilot made the right decision to eject. The ministry said the jet took off from Chihhang Air Base in Taitung, eastern Taiwan, at 10.08am for routine combat training. “At 11.26am, the pilot was on his way back to the base and radioed through an alert to eject over the sea some 10 nautical miles south of the base,” the ministry said. A UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter was sent to rescue the pilot and completed its mission by noon. The pilot, identified as Lieutenant Colonel Huang Chung-kai, was sent to hospital where he was conscious and his condition was fine. It said the air force had formed a committee to investigate the cause of the crash. Fatigue from repeated Chinese sorties ‘contributed to Taiwan fighter jet crash’ Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang said Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng reported the crash to President Tsai Ing-wen, who ordered the cause of the accident be clarified and the wreckage of the plane retrieved as soon as possible. Taiwan commissioned 60 Mirage 2000-5s in 1998, a year after taking delivery of the jets in a 1992 deal that angered Beijing. Over the years, the aircraft have encountered a range of operational issues such as cockpit fogging and electrical problems. In January, a tyre on one aircraft overheated during landing at the Chihhang base. Since 1998, the island’s air force has lost six Mirage 2000-5s, including the one that crashed on Monday. To improve the operational performances of the aircraft, the air force signed a NT$232.4 million (US$8.18 million) deal with a subsidiary of French group DCI in January for training and additional aircraft services. It also signed another NT$739.7 million deal with Thales Systemes Aeroportes for technical support services for the fighter jets’ avionics and electronic warfare systems. Both services would run from January 1 to the end of 2026. Taiwanese rescuers find wreckage of F-16V fighter jet but no sign of pilot In January, an F-16V – Taiwan’s most advanced fighter jet – crashed during a combat training mission in southwestern Taiwan, killing the pilot. Monday’s crash is the eighth since 2017. In all, seven pilots have died in the incidents and the island has lost two Mirage 2000-5s, three F-5Es and three F-16s. The high crash rate has raised public concern over the ageing aircraft. Some critics have also suggested that the military’s pilots have been fatigued by the almost daily fly-bys of People’s Liberation Army warplanes, efforts intended to ramp up pressure on the island. Each time the PLA has sent warplanes to Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, the island’s air force has to scramble jets to warn them off, according to the defence ministry.