18 August 2010
North Korean MiG 21 Crashes in China?
The location of the crash, some 100 miles from the North Korean border, raises several questions. Was this a North Korean pilot defecting? it is highly unlikely that such a plane could have slipped into Chinese airspace unseen by the Chinese military, so why didn’t they respond? The images do not suggest the plane exploded or was shot down, rather that it made a controlled crash landing.
Another possibility is that the North Koreans are now receiving air force training in China. The Anshan air base in Liaoning province is not far from the crash site, and the Chinese fly the J7, a Chinese knock-off of the MiG 21, out of that field. The DPRK may have been receiving external training for their pilots, and China has been trying to keep this quiet, particularly given the tensions between the US, South Korea and North Korea and China following the sinking of the ChonAn earlier this year.
North Korea’s air force gets minimal time aloft, and only in recent years has the North Korean military begun increasing the number of flights for its aging Soviet-era fleet. The North Korean air force has had to deal with shortages of fuel, spare parts and seasoned pilots, and has had minimal training and experience. In 2009 another MiG 21 reportedly crashed of the east coast of North Korea, emphasizing the difficulties the North is having as it tries to revive its fleet. It would make sense, then, that the North would be training in China. The question is whether the Chinese would want such training to be made public at this time.
at 3:19:00 AM