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Foreign Military Aircraft Landings Under Intl. Law

Foreign Military Aircraft Landings Under International Law

Text: Precedents for Foreign Military Aircraft Landings

(April 3 State Department statement)

Following is the text of a question taken at the April 2 regular State Department briefing; an answer was posted April 3:

(begin text)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman

April 3, 2001
Taken Question from April 2 Briefing


Q: How has the U.S. handled cases involving foreign military aircraft landing in the U.S., such as MIGs flown by Cuban defectors? Are these circumstances similar? What would our obligations be under international law?

A: We are unaware of a case in which a foreign military aircraft has entered U.S. airspace and landed in U.S. territory in circumstances such as this.

There have been instances in which military pilots from Cuba have defected to the United States by flying their military aircraft to the United States. We do not consider those circumstances to be comparable to the current situation. In this case our aircraft made an emergency landing in China after an accidental collision.

We continue to seek a meeting with our crew members and have asked the Chinese to allow the immediate entry of repair personnel and the prompt departure of the crew and aircraft.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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