Two Chinese fighter jets have conducted another “unprofessional intercept” of a US Navy surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea, the Pentagon has said.
A defence official said one of the Chinese J-10 jets flew about 200 yards in front of the US P-3 aircraft and about 100 feet above it, doing slow turns.
The second Chinese fighter remained about 750 yards off the P-3’s right wing.
Navy Commander Gary Ross said the Navy P-3 Orion was operating in international airspace. He said the US is reviewing the incident and will convey concerns to the Chinese.
Last week, two Chinese SU-30 jets conducted another unprofessional intercept of an American radiation-sniffing surveillance plane in the East China Sea. The risky manoeuvre that involved flying upside-down over the plane was likened to scene from the movie Top Gun.
Pacific Air Forces spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Lori Hodge said that the Chinese aircraft approached the plane while it was conducting a routine mission in international airspace in accordance with international law.
The WC-135 crew characterised the intercept as unprofessional “due to the manoeuvres by the Chinese pilot, as well as the speeds and proximity of both aircraft,” Hodge said.
China has denied US accusations about last week’s intercept, saying it was a safe and professional operation.
Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the American plane was conducting surveillance over the Yellow Sea — the northern part of the East China Sea — and that the Chinese jets moved to identify and verify the plane “in accordance with laws and regulations”.
In another incident this week, China issued a furious protest after a US Navy guided missile destroyer, the USS Dewey, passed within 12 miles of a group of man-made islands in Mischief Reef, in the South China Sea. The “freedom of movement patrol” was the first since President Trump took office. China’s Defence Ministry is seeking an explanation from US officials over the incident.