The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) on Sunday denied rumors that one of its experimental fighter aircraft had crashed during a test flight in Shaanxi Province after Hong Kong and Taiwanese media reported the news.
The reports said that an all-weather, single engine J-10B -multirole fighter aircraft had crashed at the China Flight Test Establishment in Xianyang, Xi-an, adding that the pilot was killed in the accident as he attempted to save the aircraft.
Chinese officials said no aircraft had crashed and that no pilot had been killed, calling the story pure fabrication and adding that the rumor had been traced back to the personal blog of a worker in Beijing, the People’s Daily said yesterday.
The Global Times said the allegations first emerged in a sina.com microblog post on Friday and had been picked up by the Hong Kong-based Sing Tao, which ran a story on Saturday. The report was widely circulated and was eventually picked up by Taiwanese media, the PLAAF said.
The State Internet Information Office, which was set up in May, has ordered that the individual who first published the “fake” news and the Web site that carried it be punished according to the law, PLAAF officials were quoted as saying.
Despite modest improvements in recent years, the Chinese military continues to face accusations of a lack of transparency. Given the state’s tight grip on -information, news of accidents involving the military rarely gets reported by official Chinese media.
The J-10B is a variant of the J-10 multirole fighter aircraft designed and produced by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corp. A J-10B prototype reportedly made its maiden flight in December 2008, with photos beginning to emerge on Chinese Web sites in March 2009. The J-10B, which has an improved airframe, avionics and sensors, is expected to become the standard for later J-10 productions.
Military experts have said that the J-10B would remain superior to Taiwan’s F-16A/Bs, even after the 145 aircraft are upgraded as part of a US$5.3 billion package announced by Washington last month.