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Chinese Fighter Aircraft Intercept American Plane

(Damaged U.S. plane lands safely at Chinese airfield)

Following is the statement by the U.S. Pacific Command:

(begin text)

Statement for Release

U.S. Pacific Command Honolulu

CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii - At approximately 8:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Saturday, March 31, (9:15 a.m. Sunday local time in China) in international waters, a U.S. Navy EP-3 maritime patrol aircraft on a routine surveillance mission over the South China Sea, was intercepted by two People's Republic of China fighter aircraft. There was contact between one of the Chinese aircraft and the EP-3, causing sufficient damage for the U.S. plane to issue a "Mayday" signal and divert to an airfield on Hainan Island, PRC. No crewmembers are reported injured.

We have communicated our concerns about this incident to the PRC Government through the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the PRC Embassy in Washington, D.C. We expect that the PRC Government will respect the integrity of the aircraft and the well-being and safety of the crew in accordance with international practices, expedite any necessary repairs to the aircraft, and facilitate the immediate return of the aircraft and crew.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)


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