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WATCH: Chinese Air Force Jet Flies into Ground, Explodes

© YouTube screenshotSecurity camera footage of the moment just before a PLAAF JH-7 "Flying Leopard" attack jet crashes on Hainan Island
Security camera footage of the moment just before a PLAAF JH-7 Flying Leopard attack jet crashes on Hainan Island - Sputnik International
A shocking event last week was captured on film: the moment a Chinese JH-7 “Flying Leopard” jet flew straight into the ground on China’s Hainan Island, erupting in a huge fireball.

The crash happened at 7:17 a.m. local time on May 18 on the southern island of Hainan, according to information on the footage, which came from a surveillance camera in a nearby building. A People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) JH-7 "Flying Leopard" ground attack aircraft was attempting to pull out of a steep dive when it plowed straight into the ground and exploded.

There are conflicting reports about whether or not the two pilots ejected in time to survive the crash. There are also conflicting reports about the date: a JH-7 crash on Hainan was reported on March 12, although some outlets, citing the video readout, have reported it as happening on May 18. However, all reports agree there were no casualties on the ground.

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Built by Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation in the 1990s, the JH-7 was designed to replace aging ground attack aircraft like the H-5 and Q-5 and is also used by the Chinese navy. Its performance has been compared to other Generation 4+ aircraft like the F-15E Strike Eagle and Mirage 2000.

Business Insider noted a similar crash happened in October 2011 during the Xi'an Airshow in Shaanxi Province, with a JH-7 also flying into the ground during maneuvers in an apparent failure of flight controls. Both pilots escaped that crash.

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