Video shows a Chinese fighter jet buzzing B-52 bomber that came as close as 10 feet, US says

  • A video from US Indo-Pacific Command shows a Chinese fighter jet buzzing a US B-52 aircraft.

  • INDOPACOM said the "unsafe" intercept and excessive speed put both aircraft in danger.

  • The US has reported a spike in aggressive behavior by Chinese pilots, reporting hundreds of cases in the past two years.

The US military said a Chinese fighter jet pilot threatened the safety of a B-52 bomber in a dangerously close intercept over the South China Sea, publishing video of the flyby that officials claimed got their aircraft within as close as 10 feet.

US Indo-Pacific Command shared the video was shared on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, showing what the command says is a People's Republic of China (PRC) J-11 fighter jet executing "an unsafe intercept of a US Air Force B-52 aircraft."

In a statement, INDOPACOM said the intercept happened at night with little visibility, noting "the PRC pilot flew in an unsafe and unprofessional manner, 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."

INDOPACOM said the B-52 was conducting lawful operations over the South China Sea in international air space, while the PRC intercept was done "in a manner contrary to international air safety rules and norms."

The incident is the latest in what the US says is a spike in aggressive and dangerous intercepts by Chinese pilots over the South and East China seas. Last week, the US Department of Defense unclassified photos and videos it says show these intercepts, including Chinese fighters flying alongside, over, and underneath US aircraft sometimes at a distance of just 10 or 15 feet.

The US has documented more than 180 such incidents since the fall of 2021, a staggering number as China has, for the most part, gone silent in dialogue with US defense officials. In the Pentagon's recent China Military Power Report, officials said: "In 2022, the [People's Liberation Army] largely denied, cancelled, and ignored recurring bilateral engagements and DoD requests for communication," the Pentagon included in their report. "The PLA's refusal to engage with DoD has largely continued in 2023" and, along with its "increasingly coercive and risky operational behavior," there is significant concern "of an operational incident or miscalculation spiraling into crisis or conflict."

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