TAIPEI (Reuters) – A Taiwanese trainer plane crashed on Tuesday, killing the pilot, the Defense Ministry said, the second fatal accident the air force has experienced in 2022.

The ministry said the AT-3 plane crashed while on a training mission from Gangshan Air Base in the southern city of Kaohsiung and the pilot’s body had already been found.

The AT-3 is a domestically developed advanced trainer aircraft that first flew in 1980 and can carry weapons.

President Tsai Ing-wen is “deeply saddened” by the loss and has instructed the Defense Ministry to investigate what happened, her office added in a statement.

In March, a Mirage 2000 fighter jet crashed into the sea off the southeastern coast of the island, the second combat aircraft lost in three months. The pilot was saved alive.

Political cartoons about world leaders

In January, the Air Force suspended combat training for its F-16 fleet after a newly upgraded model of the fighter jet crashed into the sea, killing the pilot.

Last year, two F-5E fighters, which entered service in Taiwan in the 1970s, crashed at sea after apparently colliding in mid-air during a training mission.

In late 2020, an F-16 went missing shortly after taking off from Hualien Air Base on Taiwan’s east coast for a routine training mission.

Although the Taiwanese air force is well trained, it has been forced to scramble to see Chinese military aircraft several times over the past two years, although the crashes have in no way been linked to these interception activities.

China, which claims the democratic island as its own, regularly sends planes into Taiwan’s air defense zone, mainly into an area around the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands, but sometimes also into the airspace between Taiwan and the Philippines.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.