Two pilots die in Chinese fighter jet crash

File pic for representational purposes only. Chinese J-10 aircraft from the People’s Liberation Army Air Force during the ‘Falcon Strike 2015’ combined exercise at the Wing 1 Korat air base in Korat on Nov 24, 2015. (AFP pic)

BEIJING: A Chinese navy fighter jet crashed during training on the southern island province of Hainan on Tuesday, killing two pilots, the defence ministry said.

There were “no casualties on the ground,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that the cause of the accident was under investigation.

China’s military, which is undergoing a well-funded modernisation drive, has had other accidents in recent years.

An air force plane crashed in Guizhou province during a training exercise in January 2018, killing crew members onboard, the air force said, without revealing the number.

State media reported the crash of an aircraft carrier-based J-15 fighter in April 2018 during training, resulting in the death of the pilot.

In 2015, two pilots died during a training session when their plane engine caught fire shortly after take off, state media reported at the time.

Beijing announced last week a 7.5% increase in military spending to 1.19 trillion yuan (US$177.6 billion) in 2019, a lower rise than last year as the country faces an economic slowdown.

China is working to provide the two million-strong People’s Liberation Army with state-of-the-art hardware, spending heavily on stealth warplanes, aircraft carriers and other weaponry.