Chinese Jet Buzzed US Plane: Pentagon

Pentagon calls it an 'unnecessarily aggressive maneuver'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2023 12:27 AM CDT
Chinese Jet Buzzed US Plane: Pentagon
In this image from video provided by the U.S. Navy, a Chinese J-16 fighter flys aggressively close to a U.S. RC-135 aircraft flying in international airspace over the South China Sea on Friday, May 26, 2023. In a statement, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said the Chinese J-16 fighter pilot "flew directly...   (U.S. Navy via AP)

The Pentagon says a Chinese fighter jet made an "unnecessarily aggressive maneuver" on Friday, buzzing a US spy plane as it conducted routine operations in international airspace over the South China Sea. The Chinese J-16 fighter pilot "flew directly in front of the nose of the RC-135," passing within 400 feet of the reconnaissance aircraft's nose, officials said. The move caused dangerous wake turbulence that the American pilot had to fly through, the AP reports. The Wall Street Journal calls it "one of the most aggressive confrontations between the two militaries this year."

Over the past five years, US defense officials say, China has become increasingly aggressive, with its military performing "risky aerial intercepts" and engaging in "confrontations at sea." As for this latest incident, "We don’t believe it’s done by pilots operating independently. We believe it’s part of a wider pattern we see in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, and elsewhere," an official says. US-China relations are also, of course, tense, and China just declined a US request for the two nations' defense chiefs to meet while they both attend a Singapore security conference this weekend. (More China stories.)

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