A Chinese military aircraft crashed in Guizhou killed at least a dozen crew and passengers as military officials are examining what is being termed as a “fatal gap” between their current technology and the Air Force’s orders to push the training of its members to the limit.
The People’s Liberation Army Air Force has confirmed that an aircraft crashed in the southwestern province during a training exercise on Monday.
It did not give details of the casualties or type of aircraft involved, but a source close to the air force told the Post that at least a dozen crew members were killed. It was a new type of refuelling plane modified from the air force’s Y-8 transport aircraft, the source said.
“There were about a dozen men and women on board and none of them managed to escape when the plane went down,” the source, who requested anonymity, said.
“There are no ejection seats on those aircraft, so the pilots and crew members would have been relying on the parachute packs on board. But they wouldn’t have had enough time to jump because the aircraft fell so fast.”
The source said the incident had undermined morale in the air force because it happened just a few weeks after a J-15 carrier-based fighter jet crashed.
A second military source said it was not known whether there were any casualties from the J-15 crash last month, but added there was growing concern in the air force that there could be more accidents as flight drills were stepped up.
The defence ministry did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Chinese officials are aware that both the Y-8 and J-15 have some problems, including the engines, aircraft design, and modifications. But sources told the media that the pilots are being pushed to push the envelope farther than the aircraft’s limitations, as political concerns to build a “combat-ready fighting force take precedence over crew safety.
Others sources said that morale is plummeting in the force as they continue to rattle their saber around Taiwan and other spots in the South China Sea.
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