The Taiwan Ocean Research Institute recovered the flight data recorder of a Taiwanese Mirage 2000 fighter jet that mysteriously disappeared off the country’s northeast coast two years ago.
On November 7, 2017, the Mirage 2000-5 from the 499th Air Force Squadron had taken off 34 minutes before from Hsinchu Air Base (HSZ) for a nighttime training flight, and was flying at 555 km/h at an altitude of 760 meters (2,500 feet) near the islet of Pengjia when it disappeared from radar. The pilot did not send any distress signal or report a technical problem to ATC before vanishing. The initial search did not find any trace of the aircraft, and the pilot was declared killed in action.
The Taiwanese air force (ROCAF) commissioned the Taiwan Ocean Research Institute (TORI) to resume the search. Using a remote-controlled submarine operated from the research vessel Legend, the TORI managed to locate the engine and parts of the landing gear in December 2018.
On October 3, 2019, the flight data recorder (FDR) of the fighter jet was found. “We will send the FDR to France to be analyzed as soon as possible. The results can help us determine the cause of the incident,” ROCAF spokesman Wang Chun-hsiung told AFP. Officials quoted by Taipei Times said the data extraction could take about 60 days.
Taiwan acquired a fleet of 60 Dassault Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets in 1992. The multirole aircraft represents an important component of the island’s airspace sovereignty defense.
On August 20, 2019, the U.S. State Department approved a possible Foreign Military Sale for 66 F-16C/D fighter jets “and related equipment and support”, announced the Defense Security Cooperation Agency in a notification to the Congress. The contract is estimated at $8 billion. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang threatened to retaliate with sanctions on U.S. companies, arguing that weapons sales are interfering in China’s internal affairs.