Chinese fighter jet nearly smashes into US plane in tense encounter
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Featured Image Credit: US Department of Defense
The United States military has released footage of a Chinese plane flying dangerously close to one of its own during a routine operation.
The incident took place as the US Air Force RC-135 aircraft was flying in international airspace over the South China Sea on 21 December, when a J-11 fighter jet from the Chinese navy suddenly appeared next to it in the sky.
A statement from the US Indo-Pacific Command explained the Chinese plane 'performed an unsafe manoeuvre' as it settled approximately 10 feet from the American plane's wing before drifting within 20 feet of its nose.
See the footage below:
The US jet maintained its course and speed as the Chinese plane first arrived, but the military said it was forced to take evasive manoeuvres as the plane drifted closer.
The incident is said to be indicative of what the US has described as a concerning trend of unsafe intercept practices conducted by the Chinese military.
In its statement, the US Indo-Pacific Command said: "We expect all countries in the Indo-Pacific region to use international airspace safely and in accordance with international law."
In an email to the New York Times, a spokesperson for the command added: “We have seen an alarming increase in the number of unsafe aerial intercepts and confrontations at sea by P.L.A. (China’s People’s Liberation Army) aircraft and vessels.
“So this latest incident reflects a concerning trend of unsafe and dangerous intercept practices by the P.L.A. that are of grave concern to the United States.”
Meanwhile, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, accused the US of having long endangered China’s national security with its aerial and naval reconnaissance in the region.
Wenbin said Beijing would continue to take 'necessary measures' in response to the US, adding: "The provocative and dangerous actions of the US are the root cause of maritime security issues."
Wenbin did not directly answer the question when asked whether a Chinese jet had operated in a dangerous way during the encounter.
Another spokesperson for the US Indo-Pacific Command said the military waited more than a week to publicise the encounter between the two planes because 'disclosure of this type takes time to verify details, obtain and declassify imagery and make proper notifications to other government agencies'.
The day after the incident took place, the command released a statement saying it was 'closely tracking' Chinese military activities in the South China Sea, the Philippine Sea and the East China Sea, adding that it continued to 'oppose any military pressure or coercion against our allies and partners in the region'.