A U.S. Reconnaissance Plane Made An Emergency Landing In China On

A U.S. Reconnaissance Plane Made An Emergency Landing In China On Sunday After Colliding With A Chinese Fighter Sent To Intercept It.  

April 1, 2001, U.S. officials report the EP-3 Aries II, a U.S. Navy electronic surveillance aircraft, was on a routine mission over international waters off China when the collision occurred about 9:15 a.m. (8:15 p.m. Saturday EST) The damaged spy plane landed on China's Hainan Island, about 400 miles southwest of Hong Kong, and none of its crew of 24 was injured.

Chinese state television said the F-8 fighter jet involved in the collision crashed into the South China Sea off Hainan, and its pilot was missing. The collision appeared accidental, said Air Force Lt. Col. Dewey Ford, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii."They made contact, and there was enough damage that our aircraft had to land in the People's Republic of China," Ford said.

EP-3 maritime patrol aircraft

The incident comes at a time when ties between Washington and Beijing are strained over issues such as human rights and U.S. support for Taiwan. The EP-3 is a sensitive surveillance aircraft that aviation experts say is capable of monitoring electronic communications and aircraft movements inside the Chinese mainland from points offshore. The Pentagon said the last contact with its crew came immediately after the plane landed.

"The concern is for the air crew more than anything else," said Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, a Pentagon spokesman. "We want to get them back." But he added: "We need to make sure everyone understands the plane is sovereign U.S. property. It is not subject to boarding or seizure." The four-engine turboprop was based on the Japanese island of Okinawa. The extent of the damage to the Aries was not clear.

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