A Chinese fighter pilot “performed an unsafe maneuver” while close to a U.S. Air Force plane, United States officials said Thursday.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that the fighter pilot flew in front of and within 20 feet of the nose of the RC-135 aircraft the U.S. pilot was flying on Dec. 21, 2022.
The American pilot was flying lawfully over the South China Sea, the command said, but was forced to “take evasive maneuvers” to avoid a collision. Neither pilot has been identified.
“The U.S. 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,” officials said. “We expect all countries in the Indo-Pacific region to use international airspace safely and in accordance with international law.”
Video of the incident was shared by the command, and the brief clip shows the Chinese plane approaching the American jet before the pilot begins evasive maneuvers.