Frightening footage filmed from the cockpit of a US Air Force plane showed a Chinese fighter jet swerve dangerously close as the pair flew through international airspace over the South China Sea on Friday.
The Chinese jet could be seen swerving across the nose of the American plane — coming as close as 400 feet — forcing the Air Force pilot to fly through its wake and leaving the plane shuddering and the crew bouncing in heavy turbulence.
“A People’s Republic of China J-16 fighter pilot performed an unnecessarily aggressive maneuver during the intercept of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft,” the US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement, according to ABC.
“The RC-135 was conducting safe and routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace, in accordance with international law,” the Air Force said in a statement.
“The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate — safely and responsibly — wherever international law allows, and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Joint Force will continue to fly in international airspace with due regard for the safety of all vessels and aircraft under international law.”
Back in December, a Chinese navy J-11 fighter jet flew within 10 feet of another U.S. RC-135 and forced the Air Force pilot to undertake evasive maneuvers.
Then in February, a US plane flying 30 miles from the Chinese coastline was ordered to leave as a Chinese fighter jet pulled up alongside to escort them out of the area.
US RC-135s routinely fly through the region on surveillance missions and to apply pressure on China’s claims over vast swaths of the South China Sea.
After the latest incident, a US military official said it was believed the maneuvers were part of a coordinated effort from China to harass US aircraft.
“We don’t believe it’s done by pilots operating independently,” the official said, according to ABC.
“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.”
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