Chinese J-11 flew only three meters of an American B-52 bomber

The US Indo-Pacific Command put out a statement stating that a Chinese Air Force J-11 fighter jet conducted an “unsafe intercept” of a US B-52 bomber, approaching dangerously close, within three meters of it, over the South China Sea. 

The incident occurred on October 24 as per the United States’ recount, but has only recently been brought to light. The US aircraft were said to have “lawfully conducted planned operations over the South China Sea in international airspace,” according to media reports. 

American officials claim that during the nighttime intercept, the Chinese pilot conducted an “unsafe and unprofessional maneuver,” allegedly exhibiting “poor piloting skills by accelerating uncontrollably.” According to the supplied report, the Chinese aircraft flew perilously close to the B-52, within a 10-foot radius [approximately three meters], thereby posing a serious “collision threat.” 

Chinese J-11 flew only three meters of an American B-52 bomber
Photo credit: Twitter

The statement went on to express concern over the pilot’s lack of awareness of how dangerously close he had come to instigating a collision. 

A black-and-white footage of the encounter between the two aircraft is reported to have been published by The New York Times. The Pentagon shed light on nearly 200 instances of perilous maneuvers near US aircraft by Chinese Air Force planes since the start of 2021, earlier this month. Beijing, however, has dismissed these claims made by the US. 

Significantly, the US military released this statement just before the scheduled meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Washington.

May 2022

In the past few years, there have been numerous unsettling encounters involving the Chinese Air Force and aircraft of Western or NATO origin. A particularly concerning transgression took place in May of the previous year, a situation that escalated into physical altercations. 

In the latter part of May, conflict arose between the Shenyang J-16 fighter jet belonging to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and an Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon over the South China Sea. In response to this event, Australia lodged a formal objection with China, citing infringements of global interception regulations. 

The altercation commenced on May 26 when a Chinese J-16 fighter positioned itself parallel and at the same elevation as an Australian P-8A Poseidon conducting a surveillance flight. The Chinese fighter was participating in a training operation that required it to deactivate an aerial decoy. At such close proximity, the J-16 began discharging projectiles toward the decoy in a forward direction and subsequently performed an extremely perilous maneuver. The fighter abruptly increased its velocity and traversed just beneath the nose trajectory of the Australian P-8A Poseidon. 

Chinese J-16 approaches an Australian P-8A and starts firing
Photo credit: Chinese MoD

Remarkably, the disturbance didn’t conclude with the hazardous maneuver. Debris from the Chinese decoy infiltrated the engine of the Australian P-8A Poseidon. Fortunately, the debris did not cause any damage to the engine, allowing the Australian aircraft to successfully return home and execute a successful landing at a military base. 

Persistent tensions have been observed in recent years between China and the West, including Australia and Japan. These tensions are increasingly punctuated by a series of incidents, some of which appear intentional and others accidental. China continues to assert its sovereignty over larger regions within the South China and East China Seas, seemingly to seize control of key shipping corridors. Australia and the United States are vehemently opposed to these measures.

Chinese J-16 approaches an Australian P-8A and starts firing
Photo credit: Australian MoD

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