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Monday, March 29, 1999 Published at 01:50 GMT

World: Europe

Stealth success boosts Serbian morale

Journalists were shown the bullet holed F-117 wing

By World Affairs Editor John Simpson in Belgrade

Foreign journalists were taken to see the wreckage of the American Stealth plane, which crashed during Saturday night at Budjanovci, 40 km west of Belgrade.

John Simpson: The Serbians finally found a use for the foreign journalists
We were shown only one section of the Stealth wreckage - part of one of its wings.

This wasn't enough to be able to make a judgement about the cause of the crash, though there were bullet holes in the anti-radar fabric covering the wing.

Local people told me they had seen anti-aircraft fire hitting the plane and that it had been knocked out of the sky eventually by a missile.

Stealth secrets examined

[ image: Despte air-raid sirens in Belgrade the band played on]
Despte air-raid sirens in Belgrade the band played on
The parts of the plane's wreckage we didn't see have apparently been stripped of weaponry and the secrets of its manoeuvrability so that Yugoslav military expects can work out the plane's weaknesses.

It all comes as an immense tonic to people who are getting used to spending their nights in air-raid shelters here.

Pop concert

The United States and its Nato allies no longer seem quite so invulnerable, and it bolsters the arguments of those who believe that if President Milosevic only holds on, Nato's will to continue will eventually crack.

There was a big pop concert in the centre of Belgrade today to mark Serbia's National Day.

Some people held up signs referring to the crash of the Stealth aircraft. "Sorry," they said; "we didn't know it was invisible!"

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