Taiwan F-5 fighters to get new seats after fatal ejection incident
All F-5E/F Tiger II fighter jets of the Taiwanese Air Force (ROCAF) will receive new Mk16 ejection seats produced by Martin-Baker by the end of 2022.
The decision to upgrade the aircraft was announced in March 2021, shortly after the death of two pilots in a mid-air collision during a training exercise. One pilot managed to eject and was recovered, but later died from his injuries.
A preliminary examination revealed that the pilot suffered a head trauma causing intracranial hemorrhage. He eventually succumbed to a neurogenic shock. The trauma is suspected to have been caused by the ejection.
In a hearing with the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee of the Legislative Yuan, the Taiwanese parliament, chief of staff of the Air Force Huang Zhiwei reported that the contract for 70 Mk16 ejection seats had been signed with Martin-Baker. The same seat is equipping other aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, the Dassault Rafale, or the Eurofighter Typhoon.
The first ejection seat should be delivered by the end of 2021 as per the initial schedule. By the end of the following year, all 45 F-5E/F Tiger II fighter jets of the Taiwanese Air Force (ROCAF) should receive the upgrade, according to Huang.
Taiwan was once one of the largest operators of the Tiger, with over 336 F-5E/F in its inventory in the late 1980s. Most of them had been locally produced under license by the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation.
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