June 5, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Both Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense and China's foreign ministry denied that four Taiwanese air force F-16s have defected to China.
A mainland Chinese military publication, the Extensive Military Report, reports on the second page of its latest edition (to be published today) that four Taiwanese F-16 block 20 aircraft from the 401st Wing (based at Taoyuan air base) defected to China. The F-16s supposedly landed at an air base in Fujian Province under the escort of eight Chinese Su-27s.
According to the article, the four F-16s, including #160531
, escaped during a routine exercise flight at four o'clock in the morning on May 27. Two remaining F-16's gave chase to the four fleeing jets. Only one returned to its Taoyuan base, however, and the other plane was destroyed by the escaping F-16's according to the article.
The Taiwanese Ministry of National Defence labeled the article "a ridiculous rumor". China's foreign ministry also denied the rumor at a press conference last week.
The article in the Military Extensive Report contained a number of mistakes about Taiwan
's military background, that Taiwan's F-16 fleet is based Taoyuan for example, and not that it is split between Chiayi and Hualien.