According to a well-respected authority on military affairs, the captured 24 U.S. service personnel currently held in China will probably be released in approximately one week, but at the price of reduced military support to Taiwan.

The U.S. hostages were aboard an EP-3E surveillance aircraft forced down on Hainan island off the Chinese mainland.

Col. David H. Hackworth, 26-year army veteran and author of “Price of Honor,” as well as other books and articles on the military, stated his belief that the United States government has already agreed to limit arms sales to the Republic of China government on Taiwan in exchange for the U.S. hostages held by Beijing.

“It’s a done deal,” Hackworth said during an interview last Saturday on the “Judicial Watch Report,” a radio program sponsored by Judicial Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based legal watchdog group.

The communist People’s Republic of China regards Taiwan as a rebel province and has vowed to unite with the island — by force if necessary. The Republic of China government fled to Taiwan after its defeat at the hands of revolutionary forces led by Mao Zedong.

Hackworth also called into question why U.S. fighter coverage was not provided to the EP-3E spy plane after repeated incidents of “buzzing” by Chinese aircraft. Also, the Vietnam War veteran expressed surprise that the slow-moving prop aircraft was employed in dangerous surveillance missions instead of using satellite reconnaissance.

Hackworth described the EP-3E as “obsolete, antiquated,” and “high-risk.”

Citing his own sources in the military, Hackworth gave an account of why the pilot of the EP-3E did not “ditch” his plane in order to avoid capture — a question frequently encountered in the media.

Because the EP-3E was loaded with an extensive amount of electronic hardware, and since the plane was damaged in the collision with the Chinese fighter, the aircraft would have been destroyed as soon as it hit the water, leaving no time for the crew to evacuate.

The crew was unable to exit the plane in flight because the amount of surveillance gear onboard left no room to store parachutes, Hackworth stated.

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