According to the US Pacific Air Forces, US Air Force radioactivity detection airplane spotted two Chinese Su-20 fighter jets over the East China Sea on Wednesday.
The US team on the US Air Force WC-135 plane described the move as “unprofessional”.
“While we are still investigating the incident, initial reports from the US aircrew characterized the intercept as unprofessional. The issue is being addressed with China through appropriate diplomatic and military channels,” Air Force Lt. Col. Hodge said in a statement.
A US official said that Chinese jets flew very close to the US plane; about 150 feet away. The Chinese plane was also flying inverted above the US plane.
“On May 17, a US surveillance plane was conducting surveillance in China’s Yellow Sea airspace. Chinese military aircraft identified and verified the US plane in accordance with law and regulations. Their operations were professional and safe,” Senior Col. Wu Qian, China’s Defense Military’s spokesperson, said.
“The frequent close-in surveillance by US military ships and aircraft is the root cause to the issue of China-US military safety at sea and in the air. We hope the US side will stop such surveillance activities to avoid such incidents from happening again,” Qian added.
Previous similar incidents
This incident is the second of its kind between US and Chinese jets. The first one took place over the South Chinese Sea in February when a US Navy P-3 Orion airplane experienced a close encounter with a Chinese surveillance jet.
Many US defense officials characterized the encounter as “unsafe”.
During the encounter, the US Navy aircraft hat to change its path in order to avoid any collision with the Chinese plane; an official said that it was a People’s Liberation Army Air Force KJ-200.