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Air Force to help probe pilot crash in France

TAIPEI--An Air Force team was set to depart for France yesterday to help investigate a jet fighter crash in which a Taiwanese pilot died during training operations, Air Force officials said that day.

The Air Force said it has also set up a task force in Taiwan to deal with the accident in which Lt. Col. Wang Tung-yi (王同義), 37, died during training at the Luxeuil-les-Bains airfield in eastern France on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Wang was participating in a training operation involving four Mirage 2000-5s, France's Defense Ministry said.

Meanwhile, Gen. Denis Mercier, chief of staff of the French Air Force, issued a statement expressing sympathy to Wang's family.

The French military described Wang as an experienced pilot who had logged 1,500 hours of flight time in the Mirage 2000-5.

As part of an arms sales package in which Taiwan purchased 60 Mirage 2000-5s from France in 1992, Taiwan sends a pilot to France to undertake a two-year training program every two years.

Wang arrived in France in 2010 and was set to finish the program in November, local Air Force officials said. His wife and daughter were also in France with him, they added.

Asked whether the accident will affect the training exchange program, the Air Force said the program is included in the arms deal and “will remain unchanged.”

Mirage Fighters Grounded after Crash

Air Force officials said yesterday that all of Taiwan's Mirage jet fighters have been grounded following a crash in France in which a Taiwanese pilot died during training operations.

The Air Force has suspended all flights of the French-built Mirage 2000-5s in order to conduct checks and maintenance work, said Lt. Gen. Wu Wan-chiao (吳萬教), director of the Air Force Command Headquarters' Department of Political Warfare.

The flight suspension will not be lifted until the reasons for the Mirage 2000-5 crash in France have been identified, Wu said, adding that the black box of the crashed warplane had been recovered.

According to a Radio France Internationale report Wednesday, local people said they saw a “ball of fire” crash into a wooded area about 500 meters from a group of houses that morning.

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