Chinese pilots aboard a J-16 fighter jet performed a maneuver described as “risky aggressive” in front of a USAF RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft operating in the South China Sea (LCS) last week, the US Ocean Command wrote. Pacific (INDOPACOM) on Tuesday (30/5).
The Chinese fighter flew directly within 400 feet of the RC-135’s nose, causing the American plane to turbulence during its flight.
In fact, US planes fly to conduct routine operations in international airspace over the South China Sea.
“The RC-135 conducted safe and routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace, consistent with international law,” US Pacific Command said.
The incident is evident in a video clip that was circulated on social media, showing the American plane being subjected to shocks during its flight.
China’s J-16 intercepting a US RC-135 reconnaissance plane near Chinese airspace.
0:15 second, as the J-16 cuts across the intruder’s nose, the turbulence shook the American aircraft.
The USAF muted the recording, I’m sure there were a few scared f words uttered in the cockpit. pic.twitter.com/xw1vJf3LHL
— Zhao DaShuai unconditionally patriotic 🇨🇳 (@zhao_dashuai) May 30, 2023
The US military also suspects that the incident was carried out on purpose.
“We do not believe the pilots independently performed this maneuver,” a US military official said in a statement. We think it’s part of a broader pattern.”
He said that a previous similar incident occurred last December and forced US planes to maneuver to avoid collision.
The announcement of the latest incident comes a day after the Pentagon said Beijing had rejected a US invitation for a meeting between China’s defense minister and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Singapore later this week.
The Pentagon noted that the US Secretary of Defense and other US officials are working to consolidate alliances and partnerships in Asia as part of efforts to counter Beijing’s increasingly assertive moves. But China avoided it.