BANGKOK — A Chinese language fighter jet got here inside 10 toes of an American B-52 bomber flying over the South China Sea, practically inflicting an accident, the U.S. army mentioned, underscoring the potential for a mishap as each international locations vie for affect within the area.
Within the evening intercept, the Shenyang J-11 twin-engine fighter closed on the U.S. Air Pressure airplane at an “uncontrolled extreme velocity, flying beneath, in entrance of, and inside 10 toes of the B-52, placing each plane at risk of a collision,” the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command mentioned in a press release launched late Thursday.
“We’re involved this pilot was unaware of how shut he got here to inflicting a collision,” the army mentioned.
China’s Ministry of International Affairs didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark, however in an analogous incident in Might, the Chinese language authorities dismissed American complaints and demanded that Washington finish such flights over the South China Sea.
China has been more and more assertive in advancing its claims on a lot of the South China Sea as its territorial waters, a place rejected by the U.S. and different international locations that use the huge expanse of ocean for delivery.
China’s claims have led to longstanding territorial disputes with different international locations within the South China Sea, one of many world’s busiest commerce routes. A Chinese language coast guard ship and an accompanying vessel final week rammed a Philippine coast guard ship and a military-run provide boat off a contested shoal within the waterway.
The U.S. and its allies recurrently conduct maritime maneuvers within the South China Sea, and likewise recurrently fly plane over the realm to emphasise that the waters and airspace are worldwide.
The B-52 was “lawfully conducting routine operations over the South China Sea in worldwide airspace” when it was intercepted by the J-11 on Tuesday, the U.S. army mentioned.
Intercepts are frequent, with the U.S. saying that there have been greater than 180 such incidents because the fall of 2021.
They don’t seem to be typically as shut as Tuesday’s incident, nevertheless, and with tensions already excessive between Beijing and Washington, a collision would have had the potential to result in an escalation.
The U.S. army mentioned in its assertion that the incident won’t change its method.
“The U.S. will proceed to fly, sail and function — safely and responsibly — wherever worldwide legal guidelines permit,” the army mentioned.