October 31, 2005 (by Anonymous) - The combat capability of the Republic of China Air Force's F-16 jets came under question Friday after it was revealed that two F-16s sent to sink an overturned cargo ship carrying a load of toxic chemicals Thursday fired four laser-guided bombs but failed to accomplish their mission.
Asked how he felt about the performance of the planes' pilots at a question and answer session of the legislature, Minister of National Defense Li Jye said he felt bad and was "embarrassed."
Li said the two fighters dropped four laser-guided bombs, each weighing about 2,000 pounds, but scored only one hit.
He said that theoretically, a bomb of such caliber could blow a hole in a ship the size of a basketball court.
The defense minister said military authorities will conduct a review of the failed mission.
TheSouth Korean cargo ship capsized October 10 after colliding with a Taiwanese-owned, Liberian-registered container ship from Hong Kong.
In addition to 3,140 cubic meters of benzene, the Samho Brother was carrying 85 tons of fuel oil and 16 tons of diesel.
After the bomb-run, two AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters were dispatched. They fired a total of eight Hellfire missiles at the ship on Thursday afternoon. Although they also failed to completely sink the ship, the ministry said the second mission was much more effective than the first one.