A U.S. Air Force B-52H bomber was approached in an ‘unprofessional manner’ by a Chinese J-11 fighter aircraft in ‘approved international airspace,’ according to a statement released by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command on Thursday.
The Command reported that the bomber was lawfully conducting routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace when this risky encounter occurred.
During the nighttime intercept, the Chinese pilot displayed unsafe and unprofessional behavior, demonstrating poor airmanship by closing in on the B-52 at uncontrolled excessive speed. This maneuver brought the Chinese aircraft within 10 feet of the B-52, putting both planes in peril of collision. It is deeply concerning that this pilot seemed unaware of the severe risk of collision that was created by these actions.
This perilous interception by the People’s Republic of China occurred during limited visibility, and it clearly violated international air safety rules and norms. International standards dictate that military aircraft must approach one another with professionalism and due regard for the safety of all involved.
#USINDOPACOM Statement on #PRC Unprofessional Intercept: “A People’s Republic of China J-11 pilot executed an unsafe intercept of a U.S. Air Force B-52 aircraft which was lawfully conducting routine operations over the South China Sea…”
— U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (@INDOPACOM) October 26, 2023
This incident is the most recent example of a pattern outlined in the 2023 China Military Power Report (CMPR) released by the Department of Defense. The report highlighted behaviors by Chinese military aircraft characterized as “unsafe, unprofessional, and other behaviors that seek to impinge upon the ability of the United States and other nations to safely conduct operations where international law allows.” This behavior has manifested in more than 180 such interactions since the fall of 2021.
On October 17, 2023, the Department declassified a collection of images and videos that depict a worrying trend of coercive and hazardous operational conduct by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). These incidents have been directed against U.S. aircraft that were lawfully operating in international airspace in the East and South China Sea regions.