China’s air force holds funeral for crew killed in plane crash

But PLA has yet to say how many people died or name any of the victims

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 February, 2018, 11:03pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 February, 2018, 11:03pm

China’s air force held a funeral on Sunday for crew members killed in a plane crash in Guizhou last month, but it has yet to say how many people died or name the victims.

In a statement, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force said only that “the crew” of a military aircraft had sacrificed their lives during a training session on January 29.

Military sources told the South China Morning Post last week that at least a dozen servicemen had been killed in the crash. The incident involved a new type of refuelling plane modified from the air force’s Y-8 transport aircraft.

The sources said the crash had severely affected air force morale at a time when it is under pressure to conduct more intensive drills amid a push to make China’s military combat-ready.

“Ensuring flight safety is the common pursuit of air forces all over the world,” the air force statement said. “The PLA Air Force will continue military training under combat conditions with tough and strict standards and enhance its capability to win wars.”

The statement on the air force’s official Weibo account did not give further details of the crash, nor did it name any of the victims. It was accompanied by one image – a close-up photo of a yellow heart-shaped wreath.

“On February 2, they were honoured as revolutionary martyrs by the air force of the Southern Theatre Command,” it said. The funeral was held at a military base in Guizhou.

The defence ministry did not respond to an inquiry from the Post on Sunday.

But one of the victims was identified by state-run China Youth Daily, which linked the crash to an obituary for Shang Jin written by the alumni association of a Sichuan university.

Shang, who was believed to be about 30, was an air force officer who died in a military training exercise on January 29, according to the obituary from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China alumni association. He is survived by his wife, a three-year-old son, one-year-old daughter and his parents.

‘More PLA drills mean more military jet crashes’ as China ramps up combat readiness

The incident in Suiyang county happened just a few weeks after a J-15 fighter jet went down but it was not known whether anyone was killed in that crash, a source told the Post earlier. They said the two incidents suggested China’s “imperfect” military aircraft might not be up to the task of intensive drills in the region.

The air force will meanwhile begin training young pilots in real battle scenarios at a flight college in the northeast, Xinhua reported on Saturday.

Allowing the cadets to “experience tension through real battles and further understand the aircraft and strategies” was the best way to improve the fighting capabilities of the air force, officials from the PLA Air Force Harbin Flight Academy told Xinhua.

The cadets will take part in two-to-one battle scenarios as well as live-fire and nighttime formation flying.

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