A Chinese Shenyang J-11 fighter jet harassed a U.S. B-52 bomber over the South China Sea last Tuesday, coming within 10 feet of crashing into the U.S. aircraft.
Just two days after the dangerous encounter, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command released a statement, which explained that a Chinese J-11 pilot “executed an unsafe intercept” of a B-52 aircraft that was “lawfully conducting routine operations” in international airspace over the South China Sea.
“During the night time intercept, the PRC pilot flew in an unsafe and unprofessional manner, demonstrated poor airmanship by closing with uncontrolled excessive speed, flying below, in front of, and within 10 feet of the B-52, putting both aircraft in danger of collision,” U.S. Indo-Pacific command stated. “We are concerned this pilot was unaware of how close he came to causing a collision.”
The U.S. military claimed that China’s intercept of the B-52 bomber, which occurred with “limited visibility” at night, was not in compliance with international air safety regulations.
“Military aircraft, when intentionally approaching another, shall operate with professional airmanship and give due regard for the safety of other aircraft,” U.S. Indo-Pacific Command stated.
According to Fox News, the Chinese Communist Party accused the United States of provoking the dangerous encounter with the presence of military aircraft on “China’s doorstep.”
“The U.S. military planes traveled thousands of miles to China’s doorstep to flex muscle,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said in a statement obtained by Fox News. “That is the source of maritime and air security risks, and is not conducive to regional peace and stability.”
Addressing potential encounters in the future, the Chinese spokeswoman said China will continue to “take resolute measures” in order to maintain its security, national sovereignty, and territorial integrity.
The U.S. military also addressed future operations in its press release, stating, “The U.S will continue to fly, sail, and operate – safely and responsibly – wherever international laws allow. The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Joint Force remains dedicated to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and we expect all countries in the Indo-Pacific to operate in international airspace safely and in accordance with international law.”