Chinese Military Jet Crashes in Residential Area

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A Chinese air force fighter jet collided with residential houses during a training mission in central China. According to state media, one person was reportedly killed on the ground, and two others were injured. The reports of the military accident were unusual because China typically keeps such incidents secret or focuses on the heroic role of the pilot in preventing casualties on the ground. 

Complaints from foreign governments

Chinese fighter jets have recently been accused of flying dangerously close to military surveillance planes operated by foreign governments. The Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said that a J-7 aircraft crashed while on a mission near an airport in Xiangyang in Hubei province. The pilot ejected safely, but a few residential buildings were ravaged. The pilot, as well as those injured in the crash, was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment. The cause of the event is under investigation.

The J-7 is a single-engine, Soviet-designed aircraft dating from the 1950s. It was produced for nearly five decades until production ended in 2013. Large numbers of these jets continue to operate to ensure regional air protection. China also sold an export variant, the F-7, to over a dozen countries. However, a majority of them have since retired the jets. 

Industry under scrutiny

China’s civil aviation industry has come under pressure in recent months in the wake of the still-unexplained crash of a China Eastern Airlines plane in which all 132 passengers on board were killed. Then, a Tibet Airlines plane carrying 122 people veered off the runway and caught fire while departing from the southwestern city of Chongqing. There were no casualties, but many passengers sustained minor injuries.

Australia and Canada have recently expressed concerns about the recklessness of Chinese fighter pilots. According to the Canadian military, Chinese fighter jets risked collision by attempting to divert a Canadian long-range patrol aircraft from its path, forcing the Canadian crew to change direction quickly. 

China’s defense

Australia has accused a Chinese fighter jet of engaging in a dangerous, aggressive act against an Australian air force plane carrying out aerial surveillance in the South China Sea. Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said that China’s J-16 fighter jet accelerated suddenly and cut in front of the Australian jet. As a result, it released chaff with tiny bits of aluminum created to confuse radars, which were absorbed into the latter’s engine. 

The Chinese have defended the actions of their pilots, blaming foreign countries for leading close-in surveillance to suppress China’s development.

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