Tags: U.S. | Airliners | Arm | Chinese | Air | Force

U.S. Airliners Arm Chinese Air Force

Wednesday, 04 April 2001 12:00 AM

U.S. defense intelligence officials confirmed that the Chinese air force is operating the 10 Boeing civil airliners as military jet transports.

"If PLA commandos capture a Taiwan airfield, there will be scores of U.S.-made transports bringing in troops and weapons to make it secure," stated Richard Fisher, a defense analyst and fellow at the Jamestown Foundation.

"There are several PRC airlines that are either owned or linked to the PLAAF [People's Liberation Army Air Force]," noted Fisher.

"They mostly fly Boeing craft, though some Russian airliners as well. I assume that most airliners in PRC airlines are subject to mobilization if necessary."

A high-level source inside Capitol Hill is also concerned that U.S. laws may have been broken. The use of U.S.-made commercial transports for military purposes is considered a violation of U.S. export laws unless a "waiver" was issued to China.

"Any waiver to allow China to use U.S. civil airliners as military aircraft would have come from the [Clinton] White House," said one source. "We have to check on this and find out."

According to a 1994 U.S. military report, the Clinton administration was aware that China United Airlines was owned by the PLAAF. Documentation obtained using the Freedom of Information Act shows that China United Airlines is one of several businesses wholly owned and operated by the People's Liberation Army Air Force or PLAAF.

"China United Airlines (CUA) is a commercial entity of the PLA Air Force," states a 1994 report on the Chinese military issued by Lt. Col. Dennis Blasko, former U.S. defense attaché to Beijing.

"The major enterprise subordinate to the PLA Air Force is the China Lantian [Blue Sky] Industrial Corp," noted Blasko.

"Also affiliated to Lantian is the Tian Ma [Sky Horse] Brand of vehicles and vehicle repair parts and facilities."

According to its own Web site, the PLAAF-owned China United Airlines also operates a small fleet of Russian-made Ilyushin IL-76 jet transports. The IL-76 four-engine jet is the front-line PLAAF military transport, and the Chinese civil version is frequently armed with a cannon located in a rear turret.

In addition, PLAAF IL-76 transports dropped paratroopers, tanks and artillery directly onto the battlefield during the fall 2000 Chinese military exercises.

One U.S. defense source expressed concern that China may modify some of the Boeing 737 jets with military technology stolen from the recently captured U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries surveillance plane.

"The EP-3 is about the size of a Boeing 737 commercial jetliner," noted the defense official.

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U.S. defense intelligence officials confirmed that the Chinese air force is operating the 10 Boeing civil airliners as military jet transports. If PLA commandos capture a Taiwan airfield, there will be scores of U.S.-made transports bringing in troops and weapons...
U.S.,Airliners,Arm,Chinese,Air,Force
413
2001-00-04
Wednesday, 04 April 2001 12:00 AM
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