F-18s’ emergency landing likely a US political message: report
The emergency landing of two U.S.Marine Corps F-18 fighter jets in Taiwan on Wednesday appeared to have been a political message from the U.S. Defense Department to Beijing following a recent Chinese bomber drill near the island nation that is a key rival to Beijing’s rule, according to a Washington Times news report, citing analysts.
This may be a simple “accident,” but one hopes the symbolism is not lost on Beijing, the analysts said in the newspaper report, dated April 1 Washington, D.C. time.
The Marine jet landings appeared to be the U.S. Defense Department sending a political message to China, since the aircraft could have made an emergency landing at a less-controversial location such as the Japanese airfield on Shimoji Island, 193 kilometers east of Taiwan, according to military analyst Rick Fisher.
The newspaper also cited China’s official Xinhua News Agency as saying that the bomber exercises, which ended Monday, were the first drills by China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force in the “West Pacific.”
China state television identified the aircraft as H-6K bombers — upgraded, Soviet-designed nuclear capable bombers equipped with cruise missiles.
The precise location of the bomber flights was along the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and Philippines archipelago, it was reported.
However, the report said, citing Paul L. Greenberg, a Marine Corps spokesman, that the pilots who made the emergency landing followed standard procedure and safely put down the aircraft in the closest location where the weather was conducive to landing.