The United States (US) has accused a J-16 fighter from the People’s Republic of China’s air force of conducting an “unnecessarily aggressive maneuver”.
According to the US Indo-Pacific Command the J-16 fighter pilot launched the deliberate interception in front of an Air Force RC-135 aircraft.
Video taken from inside the RC-135 aircraft of the incident was released by the US Indo-Pacific Command showing a Chinese fighter jet in the near distance.
According to US officials “The PRC pilot flew directly in front of the nose of the RC-135, forcing the US. aircraft to fly through its wake turbulence.”
The incident unfolded on May 26, 2023, with the footage revealing the moment the RC-135 aircraft begins to shake as it passes through the fighter jet’s turbulence.
“The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate – safely and responsibly – wherever international law allows, and the US 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,” a statement from the US Indo-Pacific Command read.
It added: “We expect all countries in the Indo-Pacific region to use international airspace safely and in accordance with international law.”
According to ABC News on May 30, 2023, a senior US defense official told a small group of journalists that the Chinese harassment is coordinated.
“We don’t believe it’s done by pilots operating independently. 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,” the official said.
The last such incident occurred on December 21, 2022, when a PLA J-11 fighter pilot made an unsafe interception of an Air force RC-135.