Chinese jet 'came within 6 metres' of US military aircraft, Washington says

US claims close call forced American jet to avoid possible collision

Fighter jets of the Eastern Theatre Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army on combat training exercises in August.  AP
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A Chinese military plane came within 6 metres of a US Air Force aircraft and forced it to take evasive manoeuvres to avoid a collision in international airspace over the South China Sea last week, the US military said on Thursday.

The close encounter followed what the US has called a recent trend of increasingly dangerous behaviour by Chinese military aircraft.

The incident, which involved a Chinese Navy J-11 fighter jet and a US Air Force RC-135 aircraft, took place on December 21, the US military said in a statement.

“The US Indo-Pacific Joint Force is dedicated to a free and open Indo-Pacific region and will continue to fly, sail and operate at sea and in international airspace with due regard for the safety of all vessels and aircraft under international law.”

In a meeting with his Chinese counterpart in November, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin raised the need to improve crisis communications, and also noted what he called dangerous behaviour by Chinese military planes.

Australia's defence department said in June that a Chinese fighter aircraft dangerously intercepted an Australian military surveillance plane in the South China Sea region in May.

Australia said that the Chinese jet flew very close in front of the aircraft and released a “bundle of chaff” containing small pieces of aluminium that were ingested into the Australian aircraft's engine.

Updated: December 29, 2022, 7:12 PM