There’s been another military close-call between US and Chinese aerial patrols in skies off China, with the Pentagon blasting the unsafe maneuvering of a Chinese fighter jet.
“The Chinese Shenyang J-11 rapidly approached the US B-52 bomber on Tuesday over the South China Sea and came within 10 feet of contact,” a Pentagon official said Thursday of the fresh incident. The Department of Defense subsequently released footage of the extremely close intercept.
The US statement said the Chinese J-11 harassed the B-52, flying at “uncontrolled excessive speed, flying below, in front of, and within 10 feet of the B-52, putting both aircraft in danger of a collision.”
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command went on to say “We are concerned this pilot was unaware of how close he came to causing a collision,” in a press release.
It’s certainly not the first time this kind of close shadowing maneuver was used by Chinese PLA pilots as part of efforts to thwart what are typically US reconnaissance patrols. But it’s more rare that this would involve a B-52 bomber. No doubt its presence over regional waters made Chinese military leaders nervous.
And a little over a week ago a very similar hostile encounter occurred involving a Canadian spy plane which was coordinating with US and Western efforts to monitor North Korea’s weapons program. That prior incident also saw a PLA fighter come within mere meters of the Canadian aircraft.
But like with the other episodes, Beijing has a different reading, charging that this is but the result of Western aggression and hegemony which seeks to provoke incidents by sending military assets thousands of miles away near China’s waters.
“The U.S. military planes traveled thousands of miles to China’s doorstep to flex muscle,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning has said in response. She emphasized, “That is the source of maritime and air security risks, and is not conducive to regional peace and stability.”
The US issued its usual counter, saying, “The U.S. will continue to fly, sail and operate — safely and responsibly — wherever international laws allow.”
Watch footage of the very close intercept released by the Pentagon:
#USINDOPACOM Statement on #PRC Unprofessional Intercept: “A People’s Republic of China J-11 pilot executed an unsafe intercept of a U.S. Air Force B-52 aircraft which was lawfully conducting routine operations over the South China Sea…”
— U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (@INDOPACOM) October 26, 2023