Two Chinese fighter jets collide in midair

Two Chinese air force fighter jets collided Wednesday over the northern Inner Mongolia region and crashed into an inhabited area, state media reported.

The J-8 fighters collided near the regional capital, Hohhot, on a training mission, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Both pilots ejected and parachuted to safety, suffering only minor injuries, it said.

It said both planes crashed in inhabited areas, but gave no word of any casualties on the ground.

China's secretive military rarely releases information about accidents, although the location of the crash - about 250 miles (400 kilometers) west of Beijing - may have forced it to do so in this case.

The planes, attached to the northern Shenyang Military District, are a model dating from the 1960s designed to intercept Soviet and American bombers at supersonic speeds. Production problems meant only about 40 were ever made, most of which were retired in the 1990s or retrofitted for training or high elevation photographic intelligence gathering work.

Soaring military budgets since the 1990s allowed the People's Liberation Army Air Force to buy new fighters from Russia, including the Sukoi SU-27.

Recent improvements in domestic defense research and development have allowed China to produce more of its own equipment, including the sophisticated Chinese-designed J-10 unveiled last year.

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