Taiwan’s Defense Ministry says a single-seat F-16 disappeared from radar across the Pacific Ocean just two minutes after taking off from Hualien Air Force Base on the east coast of the autonomous island at 6:05 p.m.
The search for the pilot of the aircraft, Col. Chiang Cheng-chih is still underway, according to the office of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
Tsai told reporters Wednesday morning that all of the island’s F-16s would be shut down in the crash investigation.
Despite the groundwork, Tsai said Taiwanese forces would be ready to defend the island.
“Defense and combat readiness should not be relaxed slightly to ensure national security,” she said.
It also opened a US-sponsored maintenance center for warships in central Taichung.
Military aviation analyst Peter Layton, a former Australian Air Force officer at the Griffith Asia Institute, said on Wednesday that the latest crash did not have to be caused by a mechanical problem.
“Maybe they (the pilots) flew in all day and there was no training at night,” he said. “This is normal, you might think. The real world is often a hindrance to training,” he said.
Tuesday’s crash was the second involving a Taiwanese fighter jet in half a month after its F-5 fighter jet crashed in late October, Reuters reported.
CNN’s Steven Jiang, Shanshan Wang and Shawn Deng contributed to the report. Additional reporting by Reuters.