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US and China continue to trade accusations over 'buzzing' incident — Radio Free Asia

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The US military has dismissed China’s accusation that a US spy plane “engaged in dangerous maneuvers against a Chinese navy fighter jet” over the South China Sea on December 21, claiming that it was the Chinese fighter that almost caused the collision of the two planes.

The American Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), in a original statement on December 29, said that on December 21, a Chinese J-11 fighter pilot performed a dangerous maneuver during an interception of a US Air Force RC-135 aircraft, forcing the RC-135 to ” take evasive action to avoid a collision.”

INDOPACOM provided a video recorded by the American crew.

Three days later, on January 1, the PLA Southern Theater Command released its own version, also backed up by video, claiming that “the United States intentionally misled the public” and that it was the American plane. RC-135 which “suddenly changed its flight attitude”. and forced the Chinese plane to the left.

In the latest response to the RFA on Wednesday, INDOPACOM resolutely rejected the PLA version, insisting that the Chinese J-11 was responsible for the near miss.

3 meters from the wing

“A USAF RC-135 positively identified and observed a People’s Liberation Army Marine [PLAN] D-11 on December 21 in the South China Sea,” said INDOPACOM’s Public Affairs Department in Camp Smith, Hawaii, in a written response.

He said the American reconnaissance aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when “the PLAN fighter approached the RC-135 and positioned itself approximately 10 feet (3 meters) from the wing of the RC-135”.

According to INDOPACOM, the PLAN aircraft “maneuvered forward of the RC-135, into a position where the PLAN pilot was unlikely to be able to maintain a safe view of the American RC-135.”

“While the RC-135 maintained its course and speed, the PLAN fighter drifted dangerously within 20 feet (6 meters) of the nose of the RC-135, forcing the RC-135 to perform evasive maneuvers to avoid the collision,” the Command said.

In his versionthe PLA Southern Theater Command said the American aircraft “conducted intentional close reconnaissance in the vicinity of the southern coast of China and the Xisha [Paracel] Islands” in the South China Sea, which China controls.

The spokesperson, Senior Colonel Tian Junli, said: “During the process, in defiance of the Chinese pilot’s repeated warnings, the American aircraft abruptly changed its flight attitude and forced the Chinese aircraft to the left.” .

Tian said the U.S. military’s statement was “just slander and speculation.”

He also accused the US plane of violating a US-China memorandum of understanding on rules of conduct for the safety of air and sea encounters signed in 2015.

In videos released by INDOPACOM and the Chinese military, the PLAN J-11 was seen flying at very close range to the US RC-135 aircraft.

The J-11 then flew past the RC-135 before drifting even closer to the RC-135. The American aircraft responded by dropping.

Aerial interceptions below 500 feet (152 meters) are considered a violation of the 2015 memorandum of understanding and Chinese planes are often caught doing it.

Chinese D-11.jpeg
In this August 2014 file photo, a Chinese J-11 fighter jet – the type involved in the latest incident – flies close to a US Navy plane about 215 kilometers (135 miles) to the east from the Chinese island of Hainan. Credit: Reuters/US Navy/Handout

Foreign planes “buzzing”

Flying very close extremely close and fast – known as “buzzing” – risks causing mid-air collisions.

Chinese fighter jets repeatedly ‘buzzed’ a Canadian reconnaissance aircraft during a UN mission in East Asia, with more than two dozen interceptions deemed dangerous, Canadian media reported in June 2022.

On these occasions, the Chinese jets would have come within 20 to 100 feet (6 to 30 meters) of the Canadian aircraft.

There have been a number of close encounters between Chinese and foreign military aircraft in recent years.

The latest incident took place in March when US Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters had at least close contact with Chinese J-20 stealth fighters over the East China Sea.

A US Navy P-3C Orion surveillance plane and a Chinese military surveillance plane approached within 305 meters (1,000 feet) of each other in the sky over the South China Sea southern in 2017.

The worst incident occurred in April 2001 when a Chinese F-8 fighter jet collided with a US Navy EP-3 Aries II surveillance plane over the South China Sea, killing the Chinese driver. The US plane had to make an emergency landing on the Chinese island of Hainan and its 24 crew members were detained for 11 days before being released.


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