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Taiwan grounds entire fleet of US-made F-16 fighter jets after crash

November 18, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Taiwan has grounded its entire fleet of about 140 US-made F-16 fighter jets after one of the planes crashed during a training mission on Tuesday evening.

Hong Kong (CNN)Taiwan has grounded its entire fleet of about 140 US-made F-16 fighter jets after one of the planes crashed during a training mission on Tuesday evening.

Taiwan's Defense Ministry said the single-seat F-16 disappeared from radar screens over the Pacific Ocean just two minutes after taking off from Hualien Air Base, on the self-ruled island's east coast, at 6:05 p. m. local time.

Tsai told reporters Wednesday morning that all of the island's F-16s would be grounded pending an investigation into the crash.

The F-16s represent about half of Taiwan's fighter fleet, which has been stretched in recent months as warplanes from China's People's Liberation Army Air Force regularly entered the island's air defense identification zone -- prompting intercepts from fighter jets.

Last month Taiwan's defense minister said it had spent nearly $900 million this year scrambling fighters against Chinese incursions, Reuters reported.

Despite the grounding, Tsai said Taiwan's forces would remain ready to defend the island.

"The time needed for jet maintenance will be greatly shortened and availability will be boosted significantly, ensuring the Air Force's combat power at the front line," Tsai said at the time, according to Reuters.

Tuesday's accident was the second involving a Taiwanese fighter in a month after one of its aging F-5 planes crashed in late October, Reuters reported.

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