A Chinese fighter jet executed an “unsafe intercept” of a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber over the South China Sea, as revealed by the Pentagon on Thursday. The confrontation, which unfolded earlier this week, was captured on video and subsequently released by the U.S. Defense Department.
The 38-second video footage provided by the Pentagon clearly displays a Shenyang J-11 pilot recklessly approaching the B-52, an integral component of the U.S. long-range heavy bomber fleet. The Chinese pilot’s actions were described as “unsafe and unprofessional” by the Pentagon, underscoring their alarming proximity and dangerously excessive speed.
Authorities expressed deep concern over the Chinese fighter pilot’s apparent lack of awareness regarding the perilous circumstances that could have led to a catastrophic collision.
At the time of the incident, the B-52 was conducting routine nighttime operations, hampering its visibility, according to the Pentagon’s statement. Moreover, it was noted that the Chinese fighter jet’s intercept constituted a clear violation of international air safety protocols.
The Pentagon disclosed that China’s military had engaged in over 180 similar interactions with U.S. military aircraft and those of other nations since the autumn of 2021. In one such alarming occurrence on May 26, over the South China Sea, a Chinese J-16 fighter pilot boldly maneuvered directly in front of a U.S. RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft, bringing the two aircraft within a harrowing 400 feet of each other. This forced the RC-135 to navigate through the turbulent wake of the J-16, as reported by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his apprehension about these recurring incidents, saying, “There have been a series of these actions directed not just at us but at other countries in recent months.”
These alarming encounters are not limited to the skies, as confrontations have extended to the sea as well. In June, a Chinese navy vessel dangerously crossed the path of a U.S. Navy missile destroyer in the Taiwan Strait, with the two ships perilously coming within a mere 150 yards of each other. It’s noteworthy that China frequently conducts military drills in the Taiwan Strait, asserting its claim to Taiwan as part of its sovereign territory, despite Taiwan’s long-standing democratic governance.
This escalating pattern of aggressive interactions between China’s military forces and those of the United States and other nations heightens international concerns over the volatile situation in the South China Sea and surrounding regions. The world watches closely as tensions persist.