"We are making the best use of the 'golden 72 hours' to search for and rescue the pilot. Even if there is a slight chance, we won't pass it up," air force spokesman Yang Feng-sheng said.
Yang said there is no clue to what happened to the F-16, as the pilot is an experienced warplane pilot, the F-16 has received regular maintenance in the past three months, and there was no distress signal before the jet disappeared from the radar screen.
The single-seat F-16 took off from the Hualien Airbase in east Taiwan at 6:50 pm Tuesday on a night training exercise, and lost contact with the base at about 7:18 pm., when the jet was at about 43 nautical miles off Taiwan's east coast.
The air force sent two S-70C search and rescue helicopters, one C- 130 military transport plane and two warships on a search mission.
The Taiwan Air Force has stepped up checks on F-16s, but has not grounded the F-16 fleet.
The Taiwan Air Force ordered 60 F-16A/Bs from the United States in 1992 to boost defences against China. Over the years, Taiwan has lost five F-16s and several pilots in crashes.
Last Mod: 05 Mart 2008, 12:28