During a regular training mission in the south of the island on March 22, 2021, two Taiwanese F-5 Tiger II fighter jets crashed into the sea after what appeared to have been a mid-air collision. Both pilots managed to eject from their aircraft. One remains missing, the other was recovered but later died from his injuries.
A preliminary examination revealed that the late pilot suffered a head trauma causing intracranial hemorrhage. He eventually succumbed to a neurogenic shock. The trauma was likely due to the ejection.
During a press conference held following the crash, Huang Zhiwei, Chief of Staff of the Taiwanese Air Force (ROCAF), stated that $21 million would be spent to upgrade the F-5 fleet with Martin-Baker Mk16 ejection seats, with the first retrofit expected by the end of 2021. It is the same seat equipping aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, the Dassault Rafale, or the Eurofighter Typhoon. According to Huang, the seats will be fitted on other aircraft once the F-5 fleet is retired, though he did not precise which ones.
The 7th Flight Training Wing of the Taiwanese Air Force (ROCAF), to which both fighter jets belonged, is composed of three squadrons of F-5 Tiger II fighter jets, including an aggressor squadron.
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.
AeroTime News reached out to Martin-Baker for comment and did not receive any answer at the time of publication.