- The US Defense Department is investigating an ‘’unsafe” intercept made by a Chinese jet on an American spy plane
- The incident happened over the disputed East China Sea
- The US plane was conducting its routine patrols over what is generally regarded as part of international airspace
- The Chinese government has yet to make an official statement on the incident
The United States Department of Defense is looking into an incident where a Chinese fighter jet allegedly carried out an ‘unsafe’ intercept of an American spy plane over East China Sea, Reuters reported on Tuesday, June 7.
The US Pacific Command filed the report with the Pentagon on the same day and attributed the incident to Chinese’s ‘improper airmanship.’
“One of the intercepting Chinese jets had an unsafe excessive rate of closure on the RC-135 aircraft. Initial assessment is that this seems to be a case of improper airmanship, as no other provocative or unsafe maneuvers occurred,” said a statement from the US Pacific Command Pacific spokesman Cmdr. Dave Benham.
The intercept reportedly involved two Chinese J-10 fighter jets and a U.S. Air Force RC-135 spy plane which is conducting a reconnaissance patrol over an international airspace where the disputed Senkaku island is located.
“The Department of Defense is addressing the issue with China in appropriate diplomatic and military channels,” Benham added.
The statement, however, did not mention how close the Chinese jets came to the US aircraft. Also, the Chinese foreign and defense ministries have yet to comment on the incident.
The latest ‘close encounter’ between Chinese and US jets came after the two rivals traded barbs over maritime disputes in South China Sea/West Philippine Sea at the Shangri-La Dialogue held in Singapore on Saturday.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter accused China of building the so-called “great wall of self-isolation” at the expense of its smaller and less powerful neighbors. China hit back by accusing US of ‘exacerbating’ the conflict and insisted they’re not the ones making the trouble, but have no fear of trouble, nonetheless.
Last month, two Chinese fighters made an ‘unsafe’ intercept’ of a US plane conducting routine patrols over South China Sea.
The American spy plane was then conducting its third freedom of navigation operation over disputed seas and accused China of violating the agreement on rules of behavior in air-to-air encounters signed by both governments last year.