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Taiwan Fighter Jet Crashes at Sea

December 14, 1999

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ A French-made Mirage 2000-5 fighter jet crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Taiwan’s east coast Tuesday, the air force said.

Search boats were looking for the pilot and the aircraft _ the second Mirage to crash in two months _ at a site where an oil slick was discovered some 55 miles off the coast, rescue official Lin Chang-jung said.

Bad weather conditions, however, were hampering rescue efforts, Lin told TVBS cable television news.

The plane disappeared from radar and the pilot lost contact with air traffic controllers just before 11:00 a.m. near the city of Suao, some 46 miles southeast of Taipei, air force Col. Chin Chien-ho said.

In October, a Mirage fighter jet crashed after the pilots reported that a bird had apparently been sucked into the plane’s engine. The pilots parachuted to safety.

Taiwan bought 60 of the advanced fighter jets from France in 1992 as part of an overhaul of the island’s air defenses against China.

China considers Taiwan part of its territory.

The air force has already lost four U.S.-made F-16 jet fighters in less than two years. Taiwan bought 150 of the U.S. planes the same year it bought the Mirages.

Update hourly