The US reconnaissance aircraft had collided with a Chinese fighter because of its pilot's aggressive behavior. This was disclosed to reporters here today by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who didn't make any official comments before. Rumsfeld thus confirmed the official story now being circulated by the US mass media. In his words, the US plane had been controlled by an auto-pilot, while flying straight at one and the same altitude in international air space over the sea. It was buzzed by a Chinese fighter on two occasions, with its pilot behaving rather aggressively. After that, the Chinese fighter once again closed in too fast, with its tail unit hitting the US aircraft's propeller. The fighter then broke in two, eventually hitting the water. The American plane's nose section broke off as a result of that collision, with its fragments piercing the fuselage and completely disabling the left-wing engine. Consequently, the aircraft tilted to the left, subsequently descending by 1,500-2,500 meters; however, its crew then regained control of the plane. According to Rumsfeld, the pilot had transmitted the distress signal 25-30 times, before landing at a Chinese airfield. Despite the fact that the collision had been accidental, the Chinese pilot behaved aggressively, Rumsfeld added. The US plane had every right to fly in international air space; for their own part, Chinese pilots also had the right to observe its flight; however, such interceptions are inadmissible, Rumsfeld went on to say. In his words, Chinese pilots had intercepted US ferret planes along the China coast on 44 occasions during the last few months. Moreover, the planes flew at a dangerous distance (some 3-9 meters) from each other in six cases. In December 2000 the previous US administration had called on the Chinese side to prevent any repetition of such incidents, Rumsfeld told those present.
Visit www.rian.ru for RIA 'Novosti' news.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine may face new problems over the upgraded Russian unmanned aerial vehicle Lancet. Kyiv will now need to use airfields far from the line of combat contact and look for new ways to protect its aircraft