A Chinese J-11 fighter jet captured on camera mounted on a US Air Force B-52.
The United States has condemned the "unsafe" conduct of a Chinese J-11 fighter jet that late Tuesday flew to within 10 feet of a US Air Force B-52 bomber conducting "routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace". The use of the term "unsafe" is significant since it is only used in most extreme cases. The US military's Indo-Pacific Command further said the Chinese fighter pilot's actions "demonstrated poor airmanship by closing with uncontrolled excessive speed, flying below, in front of, and within 10 feet (of the B-52), putting both aircraft in danger of collision."
"...intercept was conducted at night, with limited visibility, in a manner contrary to international air safety rules and norms. Military aircraft, when intentionally approaching another, shall operate with professional airmanship and give due regard for safety..."
"We are concerned this pilot was unaware of how close he came to causing a collision."
A 38-second night-vision video shared by PACOM showed the J-11 approaching the B-52 and passing so close the camera captures the nose of the American aircraft also.
PACOM also said the near-miss was the latest in a series of "unprofessional" behavior by Chinese pilots since 2021 that impinge on the US' ability to operate safely in the area.
Last week the Pentagon released footage of some of these intercepts, several of which were described by senior US military officials as "risky and aggressive in nature".
The officials were cited by The Associated Press as saying the intercepts were "part of a larger trend of regional intimidation by China that could accidentally lead to conflict".
US media reports on Tuesday's intercept called such actions "more concerning", particularly since Beijing has stymied bids to initiate military-level talks on this topic.
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Experts quoted by The Washington Post said China's increasing belligerence is an effort to get the US military to back down in a region it wants to dominate.
China has not responded but state-run media Global Times on Thursday published a lengthy article demanding the US "stop meddling in South China Sea issues".
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The article was a pointed response to US President Joe Biden's "ironclad" declaration that his country will defend the Philippines in the event of an attack by Beijing.
Mr Biden's statement comes as tensions between Beijing and Manila, which contests Chinese claims to these waters, has scaled up in recent months, and which spiked on October 22 after Chinese and Filipino ships collided in two separate instances. To this, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said the US had "no right to get involved" in a problem between two foreign countries.
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