US F-18 fighters de­part Tai­wan fol­low­ing com­ple­tion of re­pairs

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

Two Amer­i­can F-18 fighters left Tai­wan Fri­day af­ter­noon af­ter mak­ing an emer­gency land­ing at a Tai­wanese Air Force base two days ear­lier due to a me­chan­i­cal prob­lem in one of the air­craft, Tai­wan’s Air Force said.

U.S. main­te­nance per­son­nel ar­rived at Tainan Air Force Base in South­ern Tai­wan late Thurs­day and com­pleted the work Fri­day morn­ing. The two fighters left for their base in Ok­i­nawa af­ter re­pairs were com­pleted, an Air Force of­fi­cial said.

The fighters left at 1:12 p.m. af­ter pass­ing safety checks, said Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shouhe ( ).

Mark Zim­mer, spokesman for the Amer­i­can In­sti­tute in Tai­wan (AIT), the de facto U.S. em­bassy in Tai­wan, also con­firmed that the F-18s had left.

The C-130 trans­port plane that car­ried the Amer­i­can per­son­nel and air­craft parts from Ja­pan to the Tainan base “is sched­uled to de­part in the com­ing hours,” Zim­mer told CNA early Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Tak­ing off from Ja­pan, the fighters from U.S. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323 ( VMFA 323) were en route to Sin­ga­pore to par­tic­i­pate in Commando Sling, an air-to-air ex­er­cise with Sin­ga­pore, when one of them had “a per­sis­tent en­gine oil pres­sure warn­ing light,” a spokesman for the U.S. Marine Corps said in Wash­ing­ton.

The F- 18 pi­lots made an emer­gency land­ing at the Tainan base on April 1 af­ter re­quest­ing per­mis­sion to land be­cause of the glitch.

The Air Force’s 443rd wing as­sisted the fighters with their land­ing and pro­vided nec­es­sary lo­gis­ti­cal as­sis­tance, Tai­wanese mil­i­tary of­fi­cials said.

The AIT and the U.S. State Depart­ment have ex­pressed grat­i­tude for Tai­wan’s as­sis­tance.

The land­ing of the F-18s was a rar­ity be­cause the United States does not have for­mal diplo­matic re­la­tions with Tai­wan, and its mil­i­tary air­craft do not use air bases in Tai­wan.

China views demo­cratic Tai­wan with its 23 mil­lion peo­ple as a rene­gade prov­ince, to be taken by force if nec­es­sary, and ob­jects any mil­i­tary in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the is­land and the United States.

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