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B737-300 Special Mission

"At the November 2004 Zhuhai Airshow [Richard D. Fisher] noticed a peculiar feature in a video presented by the Xian Aircraft Corporation. In a section of the video that showed newly built H-6 bombers outside the Xian factory, there was a Boeing B-737 jet transport with what appeared to be new fairings atop the fuselage. Asian military contacts later disclosed that the PLA had converted two Boeing 737 airliners to serve as electronic control and monitoring platforms to support testing for new long range Land Attack Cruise Missiles. Subsequent Internet-source pictures of the aircraft revealed that new fairings has been placed on top of and on the bottom of the fuselage. Such a configuration could support a command and control or the suggested cruise missile test monitoring mission. A more recent Internet-source photo shows the aircraft to bepart of a special PLA Air Force squadron equipped with other electronic and radar test aircraft.

In early 2005 officials in the State and Commerce Departments told Bill Gertz of the Washington Times that this PLA use of an American-made aircraft was under investigation. A State Department official reported to Gertz, ".commercial jets are permitted for export to China without a license, but that converting a civilian aircraft into a military jet is not allowed under U.S. export rules." This official then stated, "It is unquestionably true that these jets could not have been sold to the Chinese military without a presidential waiver, which is very unlikely," Gertz also reported that if China had violated U.S. export rules, "penalties could range from fines to the imposition of economic sanctions on China that would bar purchases of U.S. aircraft worth hundreds of millions of dollars." However, after nearly six years there has been no action by the State Department or the Commerce Department reacting to this flagrant Chinese military employment of a restricted American technology. Instead, Boeing continues to sell its B-737 airliners to Chinese airlines, which now operate over 200. In 2011 there could be over 500 new Land Attack Cruise Missiles targeting Taiwan. In early 2007 Taiwan's Ministry of Defense reported that only 100 such PLA cruise missiles were deployed."

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:38:12 ZULU