Crashed Chinese Craft a Spy Plane

June 6th, 2006  

Topic: Crashed Chinese Craft a Spy Plane

SHANGHAI, China A Chinese military plane that crashed, killing all 40 people aboard, was a surveillance aircraft carrying nearly three dozen electronics experts, two Beijing-backed newspapers reported.
A Defense Ministry spokesman said Tuesday he had no new information on Sunday's crash, which the government says is being investigated under direct orders from Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Hu's order and the dispatch of a top general to head the investigation have prompted speculation the crashed plane was of special significance to Beijing.
An official with the local government in Guangde county where the plane went down refused to give any details on the crash or recovery efforts. Neither official would give his name, as is common among Chinese bureaucrats.
The newspaper Ta Kung Pao, published in Hong Kong, on Monday said the crash was the People's Liberation Army's worst aviation disaster. That was impossible to confirm due to the intense secrecy surrounding China's military.
The paper said 35 of those killed were electronics experts and that the five other victims were the plane's crew.
If true, the crash could mark a serious setback to China's attempts to develop greater self-sufficiency in high-tech armaments for which it is now heavily dependent on Russia and other foreign suppliers.
A similar report was carried by another Beijing-supported paper based in Hong Kong, Wen Wei Po. Such publications have access to official Chinese sources, which sometimes use them to release sensitive information indirectly.
The newspapers didn't identify the source of their information or give the exact model of aircraft, although Ta Kung Pao ran an accompanying article discussing the KJ-2000, an early warning aircraft, or AWACS, that uses a Russian airframe but is outfitted with powerful homemade radars and electronic sensors.
The planes are reportedly undergoing testing in Nanjing, a city about 93 miles north of the crash site. China is also test flying a range of other AWACS and electronics warfare aircraft as a key component of military modernization.
The appointment as lead investigator of Gen. Guo Boxiong, the vice chairman of the Communist Party commission overseeing the military, suggests the crash "wasn't just an ordinary military transport plane that went down," said Robert Karniol, Asia-Pacific editor for Jane's Defense Weekly.
Villagers contacted by telephone said they heard a boom and then saw thick black smoke billowing from the crash site amid bamboo forests about 125 miles southwest of Shanghai.
Wreckage and bodies were strewn over the area, the villagers said.
State media has reported few details about the accident, other than to say a military plane crashed in Anhui province, where Guangde is located, killing 40 people.
Such accidents usually go unreported by the Chinese media, although the 2003 announcement of a submarine accident that killed 70 sailors appeared to mark a step toward greater openness.
However, the tendency toward secrecy remains strong. Three years after the submarine accident, its cause and exact location have never been made public.
June 7th, 2006  
June 7th, 2006  
Strange that a military disaster this devastating would be publicized by government-backed newspapers...
June 7th, 2006  
Regarding the PLA, I have a question. Their Air Force is called the PLAAF, or Peoples Liberation Army Air Force. Does this mean that their various military branch commands are more consolidated than western versions?

Hence the "PLA" that appears in front of their air force and navy
June 7th, 2006  
All things military fall under one command, the People's Liberation Army. Army is synonymous with military.
June 8th, 2006  

this was posted in a chinese board about half years ago.some one suggest PLA to change a name,but more people disagree.

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