Chinese Pilots Perform Aggressive Maneuvers Make US Aircraft Vibrate. PHOTO/Reuters
WASHINGTON – A fighter jet pilot China carried out “unnecessarily aggressive maneuvers” near the reconnaissance aircraft United States of America (USA) operating in South China Sea , last week. According to the Pentagon, this is part of a pattern of Chinese behavior.
As reported by AFP, Tuesday (30/5/2023), the Chinese aircraft “was flying directly in front of and within 400 feet of the nose of the RC-135. This maneuver forced the US aircraft to fly through its wake turbulence”, the Indo-Pacific Command (IndoPaCom) said in a statement.
“RC-135 conducted safe and routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace, in accordance with international law,” the command said.
Declassified video footage shows a fighter plane passing in front of the American plane, which can be seen shaking from the resulting turbulence.
A senior US defense official said there had been an “alarming increase in the number of interceptions and risky aerial confrontations at sea” by Chinese aircraft and ships – actions that “have the potential to create unsafe incidents or miscalculations”.
“We don’t believe it was carried out by an independently operating pilot,” the official said. “We believe it is part of a wider pattern,” he continued.
“A similar incident involving a Chinese jet and a US RC-135 occurred in December, which forced the American aircraft to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision,” explained an IndoPaCom statement at the time.
The announcement about the latest incident comes a day after the Pentagon said Beijing had declined a US invitation for China’s defense minister to meet Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin in Singapore this weekend.
But, the senior official said, the timing of the announcement had nothing to do with China’s rejection of the invitation. He also explained that information about the plane incident was “subject to the US military declassification process and the US diplomatic communications process”.
Austin and other US officials have been working to shore up alliances and partnerships in Asia as part of efforts to counter increasingly assertive measures from Beijing, but there have also been tentative signs that both sides are working to lower the temperature.