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September 22, 2017

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Air Force's aerobatics team makes return after tragedy

TAIPEI -- The Air Force's Thunder Tiger Aerobatics Team gave a thrilling performance at an air festival in Taichung on Saturday, in its first public performance since a training mission in October 2014 ended in tragedy.

Flying a full formation of seven planes, the team performed several difficult stunts, including diving to a low of about 100 meters above ground and then flying upwards to simulate a mushrooming explosion, to the delight of around 100,000 spectators at Chingchuangang Base.

The aerobatics team had not been seen in public since Lt. Col. Chuang Bei-yuan (莊倍源) was killed when his AT-3 trainer aircraft collided with another AT-3 trainer during a training mission just over two years ago.

The Air Force also flew its Taiwan's indigenous fighter plane (IDF), the Mirage 2000 and F-16 at the event, which was co-sponsored by the Taichung City government and the Air Force 427 Tactical Fighter Wing.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) attended the festival, accompanied by Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan(馮世寬), Chief of the General Staff Yen Te-fa (嚴德發), and Air Force Commander General Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴).

Tsai said promoting Taiwan's own defense industry is one of her administration's priorities, and cited Chingchuangang as a major base in achieving a more self-reliant national defense posture.

The president said Taichung is a stronghold of precision machinery, and many key players in Taiwan's efforts to build its own military planes are in the city.

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