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Department of Defense
News Briefing
Thursday, April 19, 2001

Presenter: Rear Admiral Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA


Q: And the status of the flights? When will they resume?

Quigley: We have made no announcement on scheduling or any of the details of those flights, other than to say that we intend to continue to fly reconnaissance and surveillance flights around the world in international airspace, in accordance with international law.

Q: You've made no announcement. Has any decision been made on when the flights will resume?

Quigley: Not to my knowledge. No, not to my knowledge. [...]

Q: Have any reconnaissance flights been conducted off China by any of our aircraft since the collision?

Quigley: I'm not going to get into the scheduling of them in any way, I'm sorry.

Q: You could have had some; you're not ruling it out?

Quigley: I will leave that to your speculation. I will just not discuss schedules in any way.


Q: Craig, is the administration considering escorting future surveillance flights with fighters, either land-based or otherwise?

Quigley: I'm sorry, I'm not going to get into that either, Bob. I will not discuss any sort of details on scheduling or how we might do it or where or anything. It's something that we, in a general sense, insist on our right to do that in international airspace and in accordance with international law. But it's not something I'm going to provide those sorts of details about.

Q: Can I just go back to that for half a minute?

Quigley: Sure.

Q: Why should that be secret? If they're conducted, their radar would show it, so who are you keeping the information from?

Quigley: I don't know that that's true at all, George. And if -- I have no interest in broadcasting when our surveillance and reconnaissance flights are operating in a particular part of the world.


Q: Well wait a minute, Craig.

Q: Wait!

Q: I mean, you and the secretary have both made a big point of saying that these are not spy missions because they're done overtly and they're not secret. So now why are you turning around telling us that you can't tell us anything about it because you don't want to telegraph anything, if these are supposed to be done overt -- if these are overt intelligence gathering and not secret spying?

Quigley: They are very overt in the sense that the aircraft are clearly marked as to their country of origin; it says "U.S. Navy" on the side of an EP-3. But by the same token, these are not flights that we want to draw a lot of attention to for many of the same reasons that came around the accident on the 1st of April.

We want to be able to quietly conduct these reconnaissance and surveillance missions in international airspace at a schedule of our choosing. These should not be seen as threatening to any country in any way. But by the same token, these are not events that we will announce in advance.

Q: But George is asking about history, past. Has there been a flight?

Quigley: Maybe I didn't hear you properly.

Q: My question was: Has there been a reconnaissance flight by an America aircraft off China since the April 1st collision with the Chinese?

Quigley: Not far enough in the past. Sorry, I'm still not going to acknowledge that. (Laughter.)

Q: Again, my point is they would know that, so what's the secret?

Quigley: Well, then, George, why don't you ask the Chinese and see if they'll give you a schedule of what our reconnaissance --

Q: (Inaudible) -- made a big point out of how these things are open --

Quigley: And this building's policy is to not acknowledge the schedule of reconnaissance and surveillance flights.

Q: Even after they're finished?

Quigley: Correct.

Source: DefenseLink

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