Retired ROC warplanes get new lease on life in Oregon museum
By Joseph Yeh, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Two decommissioned Taiwan Air Force warplanes — an F-5E and an F-5F — sent to the U.S. for display made their public debut at a museum in Oregon on Sunday.
August 20, 2013, 2:18 pm TWN
The two aircraft made their first public appearance in front of over 200 local politicians and Taiwanese expatriates at the Portland-based Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum during a ceremony held on Sunday.
Staff at the museum told Taiwanese reporters that it would take them about one year to renovate and repaint the two-decades-old fighter jets so that they can be put on permanent display at the museum.
The two fighter jets' arrival in the U.S. is part of a decommissioned-military-aircraft swap program between the Taiwan Air Force and the museum. The program was proposed by museum founder Roger Kelsay in 2009.
Kelsay proposed the swap to Taiwan's military through the U.S. Department of State and the deal was later struck through diplomatic channels.
As part of the deal, a classic B-26 bomber was shipped from the U.S. to Taiwan on Jan. 2012, and the aircraft is currently being put on permanent display at the R.O.C. Air Force Academy in Kaohsiung's Gangshan District (岡山).
In exchange, Taiwan sent the two retired jets to the museum.
The U.S.-built F-5 jets were the backbone of the R.O.C.'s Air Force when they were first deployed by Taiwan in 1974.
The aircraft were later relegated to training and intelligence-gathering missions after the Air Force acquired newer fighter jets, such as F-16s and Mirage 2000-5s, in the 1990s.
According to military sources, F-5s perform well in low-altitude dogfights.
At one point, Taiwan had a fleet of 66 F-5s, but through both accidents and decommissioning, only 32 are currently in service.