Tags: Some | Papers | Recon | Plane | Weren't | Destroyed

Some Papers on Recon Plane Weren't Destroyed

Wednesday, 16 May 2001 12:00 AM

The newspaper report, citing Pentagon officials, said Bush administration officials assumed the Chinese military gained useful information about the workings of U.S. reconnaissance flights.

The Times said the officials would not specify what kind of intelligence benefits could be gleaned from the damaged EP-3E plane that has been in Chinese custody since April 1, except to say that the documents left on board detailed "tactics and operations."

"There may be ways to exploit even a smashed hard drive," one Pentagon official said. But, the official emphasized, it would have been impossible to wholly eliminate the loss of intelligence "short of setting charges to the plane."

The Navy craft was not equipped with a shredder, so the crew would have had to push manuals and documents out of the hatch or, perhaps, use a specially designed acid during the emergency landing.

"But you can't set fire to documents inside an airplane that is falling like a rock," a senior military official said.

Meanwhile, U.S. defense officials said the damaged plane was "definitely repairable" and the preferred option for getting it back was to fly it home. China has publicly ruled out allowing U.S. pilots to fly the plane home.

Our preference remains the simplest, fastest, least expensive way to do that - and that is to get it back in flying condition again," Adm. Craig Quigley, the Pentagon spokesman, said at a briefing.

He said the plane needed repairs to flight-control surfaces - flaps and rudders, for example - as well as to engines, propellers and the fiberglass nose cone.

The U.S. Navy plane was hit by a Chinese F-8 interceptor April 1. The F-8 crashed, and its pilot was killed. The EP-3E made an emergency landing on Hainan Island, and the crew was held 12 days before being released.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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The newspaper report, citing Pentagon officials, said Bush administration officials assumed the Chinese military gained useful information about the workings of U.S. reconnaissance flights. The Times said the officials would not specify what kind of intelligence benefits...
Some,Papers,Recon,Plane,Weren't,Destroyed
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2001-00-16
Wednesday, 16 May 2001 12:00 AM
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