WASHINGTON, Oct. 14-Two Burmese Air Force planes have crashed separately in Burma, killing both pilots, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.
The most recent crash occurred Oct. 1 in Twan-te, across the Bago River from the Burmese capital, Rangoon. The pilot was identified as Lt. Phyo Kyaw Hlaing, 25, and the plane as a Chinese-made Chengdu F-7M fighter-bomber, according to local officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. No injuries on the ground were reported, and no further details were available.
Earlier, a Chinese-made Nanchang A-5C fighter-bomber crashed near the central Burmese town of Meiktila, local sources said. Meiktila is the site of a major Burmese Air Force base. The pilot was identified as Lt. Wai Hin Tun, 25, and his plane bore the serial number 15122, the sources told RFA's Burmese service. It was airborne for approximately 30 minutes before crashing in an unpopulated area outside Htan-ta-bin township on Sept. 21. No injuries on the ground were reported.
A military helicopter landed in the Htan-ta-bin township area shortly after the crash, carrying soldiers who cordoned off the area and removed the pilot's body, the sources said. Villagers helped to clear away the wreckage, for which they were compensated with a package of soap.
Both pilots are believed to have been on routine training flights when their planes went down. No information was available on what caused the planes to crash, and Burmese officials, contacted by telephone, declined to comment.
Burma's military government maintains tight control over the media, and credible reports about the military are extremely rare. In its 2001 report on human rights around the world, the U.S. State Department said the ruling junta "owns and controls all daily newspapers and domestic radio and television broadcasting facilities. These official media remained propaganda organs of the junta and normally did not report opposing views except to criticize them." The Ministry of Defense controls access to the electronic media.
The Burmese military purchased a combined total of 42 Chengdu F-7M and Nanchang A-5C aircraft from China in the 1990s. Both the F-7M and the A-5C are ground-attack fighter-bombers comparable to Russia's MiG-21. In 2001, the junta added 10 MiG-29 warplanes to its fleet.
The last reported military air crash occurred in February 2001, when a military helicopter went down in the southeastern part of the country, killing the No. 4 official in the junta, Lt. Gen. Tin Oo, and two cabinet ministers.
RFA broadcasts news and information to Asian listeners who lack regular access to full and balanced reporting in their domestic media. Through its broadcasts and call-in programs, RFA aims to fill a critical gap in the lives of people across Asia. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan (Uke, Amdo, and Kham), and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest standards of journalism and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.