Sunday was a day for close encounters of the dangerous kind. In addition to an Iranian boat coming too close, Chinese jets intercepted a US Navy EP-3 Surveillance aircraft, forcing it to take evasive action in order to avoid a collision.
The US EP-3 aircraft was not escorted, and unarmed according to the Military Times. The Chinese jets, both J-10s, were armed.
The two J-10s approached from behind, then one of the jets came up under the EP-3, and then suddenly popped up in front of it. The movement forced the pilot to immediately take evasive action. There had been no communication from either plane prior to the incident.
The incident took place about 80 nautical miles from Qingdao, China over international waters.
And of course, China is denying that they did anything wrong. They believe the use of surveillance aircraft that detect radiation is “unfriendly.”
Spokesman Ren Guoqiang said in a statement on the defense ministry’s microblog that the performance of the pilots of the two J-10 fighters was “legal, necessary and professional.”
Ren criticized frequent close-in surveillance runs by U.S. planes as raising the chance of accidents, saying such missions “threatened China’s national security, harmed China-U.S. sea-air military safety, endangered the safety of pilots from the two sides and were the root cause of China-U.S. sea-air unexpected incidents.”
The U.S. should stop such “unsafe, unprofessional and unfriendly military activities,” Ren said, in a repetition of China’s standard policy toward U.S. surveillance missions intended at collecting Chinese computer and voice data in hopes of gaining insight into the workings of the People’s Liberation Army.
From Air to Sea
The Trump administration signed off on a plan to increase the “freedom of navigation” patrols in the disputed area of the South China Sea. The Obama administration also sent US warships to make sure the passage through the sea was safe for the ships that traverse the area for commerce.
The Chinese military’s buildup in the region that is claimed by several nations has caused international tensions to rise. The US and China have recently signed agreements to decrease that tension. The new plan to give the US Navy more freedom to sail through the region cold make China eve angrier.
Featured photo: (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bobby J Siens/Released)