A Royal Australian Air Force P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft was intercepted by a Chinese J-16 fighter in international airspace above the South China Sea region.
During the interception, which took place on May 26, 2022, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) fighter engaged in a dangerous maneuver “which posed a safety threat to the P-8 aircraft and its crew,” the Australian Department of Defence reported on June 5, 2022.
Speaking to local channel 9News, Australia’s recently appointed Defence Minister, Richard Marles explained that the Chinese J-16 positioned itself ahead of the patroller’s nose before releasing chaff, a countermeasure made of aluminum-coated fiberglass intended to deceive radar targeting. Some of the fragments were ingested into the engine of the P-8 aircraft, the minister explained.
A formal diplomatic complaint was sent to the Chinese authorities by the Australian government.
It is the second time in a week that a western government expressed concerns about the behavior of a PLAAF fighter. On June 1, 2022, the Canadian Armed Forces said its United Nations-sanctioned CP-140 Aurora air patrols around North Korea were buzzed by Chinese planes in ways that “did not adhere to international air safety norms”.