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A Taiwanese F-16 fighter jet made a forced landing in Hawaii. Photo: Twitter

Taiwan air force jet makes hard landing in US after equipment failure

  • Incident is the latest in a string of accidents for the island’s armed forces
  • Aircraft was making refuelling stop in Hawaii as landing gear failed, reports say
Taiwan

A Taiwanese F-16 fighter jet was forced to make a hard landing at an airport in Hawaii after its landing gear failed to deploy on Monday, according to media reports.

No one was injured in the incident but the hard landing is the latest in a series of accidents to befall Taiwan’s military since an upgraded version of the F-16V crashed in the sea off the west coast of Taiwan and killed the pilot in January.

According to media outlets in Hawaii and Taiwan on Tuesday, the F-16 belonged to the Taiwanese air force and had been used for training missions at the US Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.

It was to make a refuelling stop in Honolulu before flying back to the self-ruled island.

The pilot used the jet’s tail hook to slow down after the front landing gear failed, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported, citing Department of Transportation officials in Honolulu.

01:15

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Taiwan deploys its most advanced F-16V fighter jets amid rising military tensions with Beijing

The officials said the jet did not appear to suffer serious damage and there were no reports of injuries, according to the report.

The accident forced the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport to close one of its runways for hours as it had to move the jet from the site, the officials were quoted as saying.

State transport department spokesman Jai Cunningham said that the only detail he had on the F-16 was that it was a visiting aircraft from a unit outside Hawaii, according to the report.

Hawaii News Now said the aircraft was not owned by the Hawaii Air National Guard and it had been flown from Arizona.

Taiwan’s semi-official Central News Agency quoted an unnamed source as saying that the jet was used for training Taiwanese air force pilots at the US base. It would need to make another stop at the US air force base in Guam before returning to Taiwan for upgrading.

Taiwan’s air force pilots on the front line with mainland China

No other information was immediately available on how long the aircraft will be in Hawaii and what repairs were needed before it could return to service, CNA said, adding the US would be asked to pay for the damage.

Taiwan’s air force and the defence ministry had made no comment about the incident by late Tuesday.

The incident came just a week after an AT-3 trainer jet from the island’s air force crashed in southern Taiwan on May 31, killing the pilot.

In March, a Mirage 2000 fighter jet reported a mechanical failure soon after take-off on a routine training mission in eastern Taiwan and then crashed. The pilot ejected to safety.

In January, the pilot of an F-16V – upgraded from F-16A – was unaccounted for during a training exercise over the Taiwan Strait. Rescuers later found its debris.

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Taiwanese radio enthusiast tunes in as Chinese warplanes crowd sensitive skies

The F-16 that sustained damage to its nose in Honolulu was one of around 10 F-16A/Bs used for training Taiwanese pilots at Luke Air Base with the 21st Fighter Squadron.

The training is part of a Taiwan-US programme that began in the 1990s when Taiwan bought its first batch of the jets from the US, according to CNA.

Taiwan’s military has been tight-lipped over sending its officers for training in the US.

The US has also rarely discussed it due to the sensitivity of the issue but in 2019 the Trump administration made public the training.

Taiwanese military aircraft have been known to quietly use Hawaii as a transit point to fly to and from Luke Air Force Base in Arizona for training and aircraft upgrades, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

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CNA said 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.

Under the plan, Taiwan has worked with the US planemaker Lockheed Martin to retrofit all 141 of Taiwan’s F-16 A/Bs into F-16Vs at a total cost of NT$110 billion (US$3.74 billion).

The upgraded versions were to be 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.

Taiwan has also ordered 66 new F-16V fighter jets from Lockheed Martin, which are expected to be delivered by late 2026 and will be stationed at Zhihang Air Force Base in Taitung county.
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