A year after the end of the war between Vietnam and China, there is still tension along their mutual border.
GV PAN Mig-21s on tarmac at Air Force base
GV & SV Former U.S. F5A aircraft with mechanics at work (3 shots)
SV Mechanic testing canopy opening mechanism on former U.S. aircraft
GV Group of pilots being briefed on tarmac in front of Mig aircraft (3 shots)
SV Pilots go to Mig aircraft and are strapped in by mechanics (2 shots)
GV Mig aircraft fly over at speed
SV Observer watching aircraft and controller talking with microphone (2 shots)
GV Two Migs fly over airfield
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Background: A year after the end of the war between Vietnam and China, there is still tension along their mutual border. Vietnamese units hold frequent emergency drills. Among them is an Air Force squadron based near Hanoi, and their aircraft include some fighters captured from the United States forces.
SYNOPSIS: Many of 921 squadron's aircraft are Soviet Mig-21s. They are based about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Hanoi and have been supplied by the Soviet Union.
There are also a number of former United State F5A and A37 aircraft, seized after the fall of the U.S. supported regime in the south of the country. Mechanics attempt to keep the U.S. aircraft operational, but they face problems obtaining authentic spare parts. The ground crews are trained to service and refuel the squadron's aircraft under emergency conditions. Vietnam says it has recently had to increase its vigilance.
The pilots are briefed before an exercise. The squadron commander says China has 360 air force aircraft in border provinces. He says they frequently violate Vietnamese air-space and the Chinese hold military manoeuvres near the border. He says these actions are provocative, and his squadron must be constantly on alert.
For this exercise the pilots use their main force aircraft, the Mig-21s. The squadron has 25 of them, and in the event of hostile aircraft being detected, the squadron scrambles formations of four aircraft to intercept the intruder. The single-seat multi-role Mig-21s, one of the most widely used fighters in the world, is capable of super-sonic speeds at low level.
Ground controllers deeply the aircraft to best advantage. This squadron is responsible for defending Hanoi and a large area of the northern provinces. Migs have been among the quantities of arms, including tanks and artillery, that have been supplied by the Soviet Union to support Vietnam's role in the South East Asian region.