MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 26, 2007) – The Philippines mounted a massive search for one of its Italian S211A military trainer jet which went missing near the Spratly Archipelago.
The jet took off Monday morning and was one of two aircrafts heading towards Kalayaan group of islands where a Filipino fishing boat capsized last week, leaving 25 people missing.
Philippine Air Force officials said the search began later in the day after the aircraft failed to return to Palawan province where it took off. The other aircraft returned safely.
At least 30 sailors were rescued near the Zhongye Reef in the Spratly islands by Chinese trawlers. The Philippine boat sank after huge waves and strong winds battered the vessel.
The Spratly islands are being claimed in whole or part by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan. The Chinese call it Nansha islands, believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits.
The S211 supplied by Aermacchi is a military jet pilot trainer in operation with the air forces of Haiti, the Philippines and Singapore. S211A, the latest high-performance version of the aircraft, has full acrobatic capability and can be armed with a range of weapon systems. (Mindanao Examiner)