BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese air force fighter jet crashed into houses during a training mission in central China, killing one person on the ground and injuring two others, state media said.
The reports were unusual because China generally keeps military accidents under wraps or emphasizes the heroic role of the pilot in avoiding casualties on the ground. Foreign governments have recently complained of reckless flying by Chinese fighter jets they said endangered crews on their own military surveillance planes.
State broadcaster CCTV’s military channel reported that the J-7 aircraft went down near an airport in Xiangyang in Hubei province on Thursday morning. The pilot ejected safely but some residential buildings were damaged, the reports said.
The pilot and those injured were taken to a hospital, and the cause of the crash is under investigation.
The J-7 is an older model, single-engine aircraft with its origins in the Soviet MiG-21 dating from the 1950s and was produced for almost 50 years until production ended in 2013.
Large numbers remain in service, however, to provide regional air protection. China also sold an export version, the F-7, to more than a dozen countries, many of which have since retired the planes.
China’s civil aviation industry has come under scrutiny in recent months following the still- unexplained crash of a China Eastern Airlines passenger jet on March 21 in which all 132 people on board were killed.
And on May 12, a Tibet Airlines flight with 122 people on board was departing from the southwestern city of Chongqing when it veered off the runway and caught fire. No one was killed, but several passengers sustained minor injuries.
Australia and Canada have recently raised concerns about reckless flying by Chinese fighter pilots.
In a June 1 statement, the Canadian military said Chinese planes tried to divert a Canadian long-range patrol aircraft from its path, and that the crew had to change direction quickly to avoid a collision.
Australia said a Chinese fighter jet on May 26 committed a dangerous act of aggression against an Australian air force plane conducting aerial surveillance in the South China Sea.
The Chinese J-16 accelerated and cut in front of the Australian plane, releasing chaff with small bits of aluminum designed to confuse radars that was sucked into the latter’s engine, Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said.
China has defended the actions of its pilots and blamed foreign countries for conducting close-in surveillance of its territory to contain Chinese development.
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