The Pentagon has declassified recordings and photos of several risky incidents recently caused by Chinese fighter jets in international airspace. The US accused Beijing of waging a “centralized, coordinated” campaign to harass US and allied aircraft. Only since 2022, about 300 such dangerous incidents have been registered.
The US Department of Defense on Tuesday released declassified recordings and photographs documenting 15 recent cases of “risky operational behavior” by the Chinese Air Force against US aircraft operating in international airspace.
The Pentagon accuses Chinese fighter pilots of flying too close to American aircraft patrolling the East and South China Seas. Some fly to a distance of only a few meters, which may result in a collision and disaster. Others release flares, show the weapons being carried at close range, or fly right in front of American planes, causing severe turbulence.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ely Ratner said on Tuesday that there have been more than 180 incidents since 2022 involving Chinese military aircraft performing “risky or reckless maneuvers” near American aircraft. Washington treats these events as attempts to intimidate American pilots. If maneuvers near Washington’s allied planes are taken into account, there were a total of about 300 such incidents, according to the American authorities. Pentagon warns of China’s “increasingly dangerous behavior in the skies.”
Risky maneuvers by Chinese fighters
Beijing does not officially comment on these events. However, in response, it often accuses military aircraft of other countries of violating Chinese airspace, claiming exclusive rights to international space over the disputed seas.
On Tuesday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs blamed Canada for the violation, while Canada’s defense minister accused Chinese fighter jets of intercepting a Canadian military plane over international waters. Canada says the behavior of the Chinese fighter jets was “reckless and dangerous.” The Chinese jet allegedly came within five meters of a Canadian surveillance plane taking part in a UN operation to enforce sanctions against North Korea.
The incident occurred in international waters off the coast of China, said Canadian television Global News, whose reporter was on board the Canadian plane.
Canadian Defense Minister Billy Blair said that while Chinese air forces regularly interact with aircraft participating in UN missions, Monday’s incident exposed the Canadian aircraft to significant risk. “I am very concerned about the unprofessional way this was handled,” Blair said. – Honestly, it was dangerous and reckless. This type of behavior is unacceptable and we will communicate this to the People’s Republic of China in the most appropriate manner, he said.
Main photo source: defense.gov