A Chinese fighter jet flew directly in front of the nose of a US spy plane in the South China Sea on Saturday, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, in a growing number of incidents involving Chinese military aircraft and ships.
An “unnecessary aggressive maneuver” by the Chinese J-16 forced the US RC-125 fighter jet to fly through the wake turbulence, according to the Pentagon. Posted a video of the encounter.
The Pentagon said the US aircraft was “conducting safe and routine operations in international airspace, in accordance with international law”.
A senior defense official said, “We have seen an alarming increase in the number of deadly aerial interceptions and skirmishes at sea by PLA aircraft and ships. As the leaders said, such actions have the potential to create an unsafe incident or miscalculation.”
The official said the video was not released until Tuesday due to the classification process.
A spokeswoman for the US Indo-Pacific Command said US concerns about the contact would be “addressed through appropriate, established diplomatic and military channels”.
Late Monday, the Pentagon said China had rejected a U.S. request for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to meet with its Chinese counterpart in Singapore. The Pentagon suggested a meeting between Austin and Li Shangfu on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual security forum from June 2 to 4.
In February, a Chinese J-11 fighter jet appeared about 500 feet off the left wing of a US P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and stayed for more than an hour. The U.S. plane was flying over mostly uninhabited islands claimed by China and its neighbors.
A voice from a Chinese military ground station warned the American plane, “Do not approach any further or you will take full responsibility.
In December 2022, a Chinese plane flew within 10 feet of an American plane.
Two months ago, China’s military said it chased away the USS Milius after a US guided-missile destroyer “illegally penetrated China’s Shisha territorial waters without the permission of the Chinese government”. The US said the ship was carrying out routine operations and had not been evacuated.