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Tainan, Taiwan, March 21 (CNA) An air force indigenous defense fighter (IDF) veered off the runway Wednesday while it was landing at the Tainan air base in southern Taiwan after a routine training flight, military sources said. The Air Force General Headquarters (AFGH) said neither of the two air force pilots aboard the twin-seater jet fighter suffered injuries in the mishap.

The locally built warplane with serial number 1624 took off from the Tainan air base together with two other IDFs at 8:50 a.m. for routine training missions, AFGH sources said, adding that the No.

1624 fighter jet jumped the runway when it was landing at around 9:40 a.m. probably because of a mechanical failure.

The two other IDFs managed to land safely, the AFGH said.

According to the AFGH, the flight mishap was probably caused by problems with the plane's anti-sliding brake system. AFGH officials said professional air force engineering experts will investigate the true cause of the incident. The ill-fated fighter will be grounded for repair and maintenance.

Air force authorities also promised to strengthen ground services and maintenance work to minimize flight mishaps and ensure safety.

The Republic of China Air Force has 130 locally built IDFs, also named Ching-kuo jet fighters after the late President Chiang Ching-kuo.

The IDFs, together with the 150 U.S.-built F-16 fighters and 60 French-made Mirage 2000-5 jet fighters, form the backbone of the ROC's second-generation air defense arsenal.


-- Doris (nocents@bellsouth.net), March 22, 2001

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