US, Chinese Jets in Close Encounter Over South China Sea

30 December, 2022 | Pranay Lad

us World

The Chinese pilot forced the RC-135 to make evasive manoeuvres to avoid a collision by flying in front of and within 20 feet of the nose of the US aircraft.

According to the US military, a Chinese fighter jet riskily passed within 20 feet (six metres) of a considerably bigger US air force surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea on Thursday.

A Chinese Navy J-11 fighter pilot “executed a dangerous manoeuvre during an intercept of a US Air Force RC-135 aircraft” on December 21, according to a statement from the US Indo-Pacific Command.

Chinese pilot “forced the RC-135 to do evasive manoeuvres to avoid a collision” by flying in front of and within 20 feet of the nose of the US aircraft, it said.

According to the US command, the RC-135 was “lawfully performing normal operations over the South China Sea in international airspace.”

The incident occurred as Beijing stepped up its claim of sovereignty over the US-supported, self-ruled island by sending increasingly large groups of jets out over the sea toward Taiwan in a show of force.

One of the largest military drills China has conducted since Beijing began stationing military aircraft in Taiwan’s air defence identification zone took place this weekend, including 71 warplanes, including many fighter jets.

In reaction to unnamed “provocations” and “collusion” between the United States and Taiwan, the People’s Liberation Army claimed to have conducted a “strike practise” on Sunday.

More than 1,700 such intrusions have occurred so far this year, compared to 969 in 2021, according to reports. According to Taiwan’s defence ministry, there were over 380 intrusions in 2020.

In order to protect itself against a potential Chinese invasion, the United States has given Taiwan significant military assistance and cutting-edge technologies.

Washington’s refusal to recognise Beijing’s disputed claims to a number of tiny islands in the South China Sea—islands that are in territorial seas asserted by other Southeast Asian nations—has further enraged Beijing.