U.S. Navy Plane Damaged in Minor Collision With Chinese Fighter

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BEIJING (AP) - A U.S. Navy surveillance plane made an emergency landing in southern China on Sunday after a minor collision with a Chinese fighter plane, a Navy spokesman said. The 24 crew members on the plane were uninjured. The Chinese plane also appeared not to have crashed.

The EP-3, a four-engine propeller plane, was on a routine mission over the South China Sea when it was intercepted by two Chinese fighters, said Cmdr. Rex Totty of the U.S. Pacific Command at Camp Smith, Hawaii.

The U.S. plane was in international airspace, he said.

There was no immediate comment from the Chinese Foreign Ministry. The People's Liberation Army declined comment.

The Navy plane collided with one of the Chinese fighters. It was not clear if the contact was accidental or if the Chinese jet tried to bump it, said another spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Command, Col. John Bratton.

The EP-3 issued a Mayday before landing at an airfield on Hainan Island, Bratton said.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing "communicated our concern about the incident" to the Chinese government, Bratton said. U.S. authorities in Washington contacted the Chinese Embassy there as well.

Tampa Bay Online

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), April 01, 2001


U.S., China military aircraft in collision

BEIJING April 1 Kyodo - A U.S. Navy patrol aircraft was forced to land in China after colliding with a Chinese fighter plane over the South China Sea Sunday morning, the U.S. Navy's Pacific Command said.

A pair of Chinese fighter jets intercepted the EP-3 maritime patrol aircraft before the midair collision, which caused ''sufficient damage'' to force the U.S. plane to divert to an airfield on China's southern Hainan Island, a statement from Pacific Command in Hawaii said.

The EP-3, a radar-laden propeller plane, was on a routine surveillance mission in international airspace over the South China Sea, which China claims as its own, overlapping territory claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines.

None of the plane's 24 crew members was hurt, the Navy said in a statement.

The United States has represented its concern to China and expects China to expedite repairs and the ''immediate return of the aircraft and crew,'' the statement said.

The U.S. television network NBC reported that the Chinese fighter plane went down and its pilot is missing.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the incident was being investigated but declined to comment.

The EP-3 took off from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture, southwestern Japan.

Kyodo News

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), April 01, 2001.

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), April 01, 2001.

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), April 01, 2001.

China Says Fighter Crashes,
Blames U.S. for Collision

BEIJING (Reuters) - China blamed a U.S. plane for a mid-air collision Sunday that it said had brought down one of its fighters.

``A Chinese aircraft was conducting normal flight operations 10 km (six miles) south of Hainan island when a U.S. plane suddenly veered toward it,'' state television quoted a Foreign Ministry statement as saying.

``The nose and left wing of the U.S. plane hit the Chinese plane and caused it to crash,'' the statement said. ``China is now searching for the crew.''

Earlier, the U.S. Navy said one of its surveillance aircraft had made an emergency landing in the southerly island of Hainan after a mid-air brush with a Chinese fighter on an interception mission. All 24 crew aboard the U.S. plane were safe.

Yahoo! Reuters

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), April 01, 2001.

China Blames American Plane for Fighter Crash

. . .

``The key question is whether the Chinese will respect the integrity of the aircraft,'' he said. ``The Chinese would be very pleased to get on this aircraft.''

``In legal terms, the Chinese have the right to board anything that's on their territory,'' he said.

Karniol said the plane was most likely fitted for electronic intelligence gathering.

Yahoo! Reuters

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), April 01, 2001.

Chinese Fighter Bumped by U.S. Military Scout

BEIJING, April 1 (Xinhuanet)-- A U.S. military surveillance plane bumped into and damaged a Chinese military jet over the South China Sea Sunday, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. 


-- spider (spider0@usa.net), April 01, 2001.

Let's hope those airmen were able smoke everything sensitive in the plane(which would basically require them to smoke the plane). The fact that China has chosen to play the victim is very bad. I doubt this will end well. I hope we get them back soon.

Anyone remember the Pueblo?

Oh, and the Dalai Lama is in Taiwan, the Chinese are holding a 2nd US academic, and they are mightily pissed over a high-level military defection late last year.

But the Kitty Hawk CBG is near the Phillipines...

-- (Captain@Bucher.pleasenotagain), April 01, 2001.

One Pentagon source called the EP-3 plane "highly classified, the most sensitive aircraft in the U.S. inventory."

ABC News

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), April 01, 2001.

Chinese Fighter Bumped by U.S. Military Surveillance Plane

2001.04.01 22:56:53

    BEIJING, April 1 (Xinhuanet)-- A U.S. military surveillance plane bumped into and damaged a Chinese military jet over the South China Sea Sunday, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

    Sunday morning, a U.S. military surveillance plane approached China's airspace south-east of China's island province of Hainan, and two Chinese military jets scrambled to track it, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao.

    At 9:07 a.m., 104 km south-east of Hainan Island, the U.S. plane suddenly turned towards the Chinese jets, resulting in its bumping into and damaging one of the two Chinese jets, said Zhu. 

    The Chinese side is very much concerned about the missing Chinese pilot from the crashed jet, and is busily searching for his whereabouts, Zhu said.

   Without permission from the Chinese side, the U.S. surveillance plane intruded into China's airspace and made an emergency landing at Lingshui Airport in Hainan at 9:33 a.m., according to the  spokesman.

   It was normal and in accordance with international practice for Chinese military jets to track the U.S. surveillance plane over China's water areas, Zhu said.

   The direct cause of the damage and crash of the Chinese jet was that the U.S. plane suddenly veered into the Chinese jet, which was against flight rule. Therefore, the U.S. side should bear all the responsibility arising therefrom, Zhu said.

   The Chinese side has made solemn representations and protested to the U.S. side, and China reserves its right to further negotiate with the U.S.side on the losses resulted in the incident, he said.

   China has so far made proper arrangements for all the 24 crew members on board the U.S. plane, Zhu said, adding that China also reserves the right to further negotiate with the U.S. side on the U.S. plane's intrusion into China's airspace and landing at the Chinese airport without permission, Zhu said. 


-- spider (spider0@usa.net), April 01, 2001.

A stroll through history.

Spy stories from a ghost ship

Deep in North Korea, moored on the Taedong River in the capital Pyongyang, is a ghost ship the United States Navy would rather forget. The USS Pueblo was a US spy ship seized by the North Koreans in 1968. At the time, some believed an all-out war between North Korea and the US was inevitable, if not imminent. But the US, already deeply engaged in Vietnam, pulled back.

After months of negotiation, the ship's crew was released. But the Pueblo was not, and today the North Koreans are rather proud of their rare Cold War trophy. The vessel's capture lives on in the hearts of North Koreans as a great victory, while for the US it is still a serving US naval vessel. It was not decommissioned or lost at sea, simply lost.

Its captors - and their allies, the Soviet Union - obtained a treasure trove of intelligence material from the Pueblo. The full extent of the loss would not be realised until decades later.

For a time the US tried to pretend that the ship was not even an intelligence-gathering vessel, but was involved in oceanographic research. Eventually that pretence was dropped, but not the claim that the Pueblo was in international waters when attacked off North Korea. Just exactly where the Pueblo was when North Korean navy gunboats seized her remains in dispute to this day.

Standing on the Pueblo's deck 32 years later, listening to a young soldier recite the North Korean version of events, is to be transported back to the height of the Cold War. The rhetoric has scarcely altered. Words such as imperialists" and "enemy aggressors" and "pirates" stud the commentary.

It all sits most oddly with North Korea's spirit of rapprochement with the West which underpins the present visit of the Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, to Pyongyang, and the mooted visit of President Bill Clinton.

The North Koreans claim the Pueblo was inside their territorial waters and opened fire first.

The US Navy, those on board and independent accounts point to the Pueblo having been well outside North Korean waters. Intercepted North Korean signals indicate she was almost 26 kilometres off the Korean coast. Nor were her two machine-guns used.

The Pueblo was sailed to Pyongyang late last year - under her own power - from the eastern port city of Wonsan, where it had been since the capture. It is in good condition and has become a sort of teaching aid. Ahead of me, a group of young Korean soldiers were being guided over the ship. Behind them was a second group, this one of school teachers listening intently to the heroic story of its capture.

In the mess room, a video shows ghostly images of the captured crew reciting their "confessions" while a commentary says, "The captured crew also attempted to hide their true identities and denied their crimes."

The Pueblo had left the Japanese port of Sasebo on January 11, 1968, under the command of Commander Pete Bucher with 84 officers and crew. The converted light cargo ship had state-of-the-art communications and encryption equipment and was to head into the Sea of Japan and monitor whatever North Korean intelligence it could tap into.

But, according to Ohio State University historian Professor Mitch Lerner, author of a book on the Pueblo incident to be published next year, "overall, the trip could only be considered a failure." After 12 days at sea, the mission had gathered no interesting intelligence.

Lerner believes the vessel was in international waters when seized, though his research has led him to conclude she may have strayed into Korean territory more than once in the days leading up to her capture.

Don McClarren, a communications technician on the Pueblo who had been transmitting position reports to Japan just minutes before capture, says: "We were in international waters, approximately 16 miles [26 kilometres] off the coast of Wonsan."

Wherever it was, on the Pueblo was a wealth of US intelligence material and equipment, including three types of radio receiver. One of these, the KW-7 code radio, was years ahead of anything the Soviets had. "It was the premier encoding machine for the US intelligence community," says Lerner.

The key code for the KW-7 was considered unbreakable. Without it, the loss of one such radio on the Pueblo at the time was not regarded as crucial. But in 1985, when US Naval officer John Walker, was exposed as a Soviet spy, he revealed that he had supplied the code and even the operating manual for the KW-7 to the Soviets in the late '60s.

With the KW-7 and the code, it is estimated that more than a million US messages transmitted over the following years were compromised. The Soviets learnt of everything from planned bombing raids in Vietnam to major US naval training exercises.

THE morning of January 23, 1968, had dawned mild and calm. When a North Korean SO-1 submarine chaser appeared steaming towards the Pueblo, there was no immediate alarm. Other North Korean vessels had approached and circled the vessel the day before. Then three patrol boats joined the sub chaser. The lead North Korean vessel signalled the Pueblo to heave to or be fired on. The arrival of another sub chaser, another patrol boat and flyovers by two MiG jets highlighted the gravity of the situation.

As the Pueblo tried to outmanoeuvre the faster vessels, the North Koreans opened fire. The two machine-guns mounted on the Pueblo remained covered by frozen tarps, according to US accounts. The shooting came in several bursts. Eight 57mm shells pierced the superstructure of the vessel. (Some of the shell holes are still visible). The ship was also raked by machine-gun fire. Several of the crew, including the captain, were wounded by bullets or shrapnel. One crewman died of horrific wounds before the North Koreans finally overran the ship.

Bucher knew he could resist - and risk the death of the entire crew - or capitulate. Despite radio signals alerting the US operations centre in Japan to their imminent capture, no US air or naval support was sent.

Bucher ordered the destruction of classified material and equipment while obeying a North Korean order to follow the lead vessel. Then he stopped the ship. It brought another hail of gunfire as the crew continued to attempt to destroy all the secret papers and machines on board.

It was hopeless. There were no real plans for dealing with the thousands of pages of classified and secret material on board. The Navy's plan was for such material to be put in bags and dumped overboard. Crew members who attempted to do this found themselves under machine-gun fire. They tried to burn some of it, filling the ship with choking smoke.

Some crew took to the sensitive encryption and decoding machines with whatever was at hand. McClarren took to one top-secret machine with an axe and managed to destroy it. But several others remained intact.

But to destroy all the material would have taken several hours and the crew had only minutes. In the end, the North Koreans captured about 2 tonnes of top-secret documents, the radios and code machines.

That was after the North Koreans had finally tired of the stalling by the Pueblo and sent a boarding party. The North Korean account says seven sailors captured the 83 Americans; US versions refer to an initial boarding party of 10, followed by a dozen more.

Pak In-Ho was a 28-year-old North Korean sailor on one of the patrol boats. Now a guide on the Pueblo, he was one of the first to board the US ship.

"Of course, I was," he said when asked if he was scared, and points to the guns mounted at the rear and front. "They resisted, so one was killed and three were wounded," he says matter-of-factly.

Pak, now 60, gives lectures about the incident since the Pueblo was moved to Pyongyang. He went on after the incident to become a senior cadre within the navy. "He is a national hero," says my guide posing for a photograph with him.

The boarding party herded the Pueblo's crew below decks where they were bound and blindfolded. Resistance was met with a rifle butt. The boat was manoeuvred into Wonsan.

The US was in uproar. Some favoured an immediate military strike against North Korea. Cooler heads quickly prevailed.

For the next 11 months, the fate of the captain and 82 surviving crew of the Pueblo captured with the vessel hung in the balance. Taken immediately to Pyongyang, they became pawns in a protracted dialogue as North Korea extracted an apology from the US over the incursion of the ship.

More than three decades later, McClarren - now president of the USS Pueblo Veterans' Association - most vividly recalls in captivity "the brutality of the beatings, the isolation and the uncertainty of when we were going to be released". They were subjected to intensive interrogation, some by Soviet military and KGB officers.

Some were tortured physically and psychologically, often being threatened with death. In the process of extracting an "apology" out of Bucher, he was threatened with being forced to watch the execution one-by-one of the crew, starting with the youngest seaman.

"Nobody on board had been trained for that kind of thing," recalls Stu Russell, then a 24-year-old ordinary seaman. From his home in California, Russell recalls developing a "dark sense of humour" during captivity.

The crew's homecoming was mixed. Initially there was a euphoria after their release across the demilitarised zone with South Korea on December 23, 1968. "The great majority of the American people treated us quite well," Russell says.

But the public heroes' welcome quickly turned sour. The Navy believed the men of the Pueblo had behaved less than honourably by surrendering and then by surviving. "One World War II naval officer told me there should have been more blood on the deck and crap like that," says Russell.

McClarren concurs. He is bitter that none of the senior naval and security personnel who authorised the mission ever came under scrutiny.

It became clear there was little future for the men of the Pueblo in the US Navy. A board of inquiry into the incident turned into more of an inquisition, singling out Bucher for criticism, claiming he had failed to prepare his crew and his vessel for the ordeal. "They made Commander Bucher look like a coward," says Lerner, who believes it was the entire naval system that failed the Pueblo.

The board's recommendation that Bucher should be court-martialled was overruled by the Secretary of the Navy who decided that he and the men of the Pueblo had suffered enough. Most of the crew got out of the Navy as soon as they could.

"We were in an impossible situation and we have been treated to an extent by the upper echelons of the military as less than honorable people," says Russell. He says some of his shipmates have not weathered the storm at home well: there have been broken marriages, prison sentences, alcoholism. "It's a pretty sad tale."

Both would like to see some sort of closure. Russell wonders if he might be allowed to go back to North Korea to see the Pueblo. McClarren would be content with the return of the ship's colours so the vessel could be decommissioned.

"It hurts to see the Pueblo being displayed for the North Koreans' purposes," he says. "If the North Koreans would return our colours, the US flag, we could put her to rest and take her from the active rolls. She is still carried as active in the US Navy and will be until our colours are returned.

"We are sort of hoping that with the present attitude of North Korea and the US that some conversation will lead to that subject."

Sydney Morning Herald

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), April 01, 2001.

A bit more of of the past.


June 7 1967, jet aircraft and motor torpedo boats of Israel brutally assaulted an American naval vessel, the USS Liberty, in international waters off the Sinai Peninsula in the Mediteranean Sea. The attack was preceded by more rhan six hours of intense low-level surveillance by Israeli photo-reconnaissance aircraft wich buzzed the intelligence ship thirteen times,sometimes flying as low as 200 feet directly overhead. The carefully orchestrated assualt that followed was initiated by high-performance jet-aircraft,was followed up by slower and more maneuverable jets carrying napalm, and was finally turned over to lethal torpedo boats, which blasted a forty-foot hole in the ship's side.

The attack lasted more than two hours-killing 34 americans and wounding 171 other- and inflicted 821 rocket and machine gun holes in the ship. And when the Libety stubbornly remained afloat depite her damage,Israel forces machine-gunned her life rafts and sent troop- carrying helicopters in to finish the job.

Lieutenant James Ennes Jr. USS Liberty GTR5

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), April 01, 2001.

Searching for Missing Chinese Pilot Continuing

    BEIJING, April 2 (Xinhuanet)-- The searching and rescuing efforts are intensely underway for the missing pilot of the Chinese  fighter, which was bumped into and damaged by the U.S. military  surveillance plane Sunday morning, according to Foreign Ministry  spokesman Sun Yuxi here Monday evening.
   Till 16:00 Tuesday local time since the incident, altogether 11 ships and over 20 planes have been sent by both the army and the  local government to the site of the water area where the incident  took place, Sun said.
   However, after rigorous searching a day and night, the  whereabouts of the pilot is still unknown.
   Sun said that leaders of the Party and government and army are  very much concerned about the security of the pilot and have made  instructions to relevant departments to go all out to organize the searching and rescuing work. 
   People throughout the country have also expressed their special concern through various ways, he added.
   According to the spokesman, the Chinese navy sent navy vessels  and the Guangzhou salvaging bureau sent rescuing ships to the  incident water area for searching and rescuing the pilot  immediately after the incident took place.


-- spider (spider0@usa.net), April 02, 2001.

China Protests Against U.S. Over Military Plane Issue

BEIJING, April 2 (Xinhuanet)-- China has made solemn  representations with and protested against the U.S. side on U.S. 
 military plane's bumping into and damaging a Chinese fighter jet 
 over the South China Sea Sunday, according to the Chinese Foreign 
   Assistant Foreign Minister Zhou Wenzhong made the  representations and protests during a meeting with U.S. Ambassador
 to China Joseph Prueher Sunday night. 
   Sunday morning, a U.S. military surveillance plane approached 
 China's airspace south-east of the island province of Hainan, and 
 two Chinese military jets scrambled to track it.
   At 9:07 a.m., 104 km south-east of Hainan Island, the U.S. 
 plane suddenly turned towards the Chinese jets, resulting in its 
 bumping into and damaging, and crashing one of the two Chinese jet.
   The Chinese side is very much concerned about the missing 
 Chinese pilot from the crashed jet, and is busy searching for his 
 whereabouts. Without permission from the Chinese side, the U.S. 
 surveillance plane intruded into China's airspace and made an 
 emergency landing at Lingshui Airport on Hainan Island at 9:33 a.m.
   Zhou pointed out that it was normal and in accordance with 
 international practice for Chinese military jets to track the U.S.
 surveillance plane over China's water areas.
   The direct cause of the damage and crash of the Chinese jet was
 that the U.S. plane suddenly veered into the Chinese jet, which 
 was against flight rule. Therefore, the U.S. side should bear all 
 the responsibility arising therefrom, Zhou said.
   He noted that the Chinese people are demanding an explanation 
 from the U.S. on the following questions -- Why the U.S. military 
 plane approached to a place so close to China? Why the U.S. plane 
 took a sudden turn, then bumped into and damaged the Chinese jet?
   Zhou reiterated that the U.S plane's intrusion into China's 
 airspace and its emergency landing without permission from the 
 Chinese side had constituted a gross violation against China's 
 national sovereignty. 
   China reserves its right to further negotiate with the U.S. 
 side on both the losses resulted from the incident, and the U.S. 
 plane's intrusion into China's airspace and landing at Chinese 
 airport without permission, Zhou said.
   According to the Foreign Ministry, Chinese Ambassador to the U.
 S. Yang Jiechi met with relevant officials from the U.S.  Department of State the same day and made solemn representations 
 and protests to the U.S. side over the issue.


-- spider (spider0@usa.net), April 02, 2001.

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