Home » Aviation » Pentagon Reviewing ‘Unsafe’ Military Aircraft Encounter Over South China Sea


Pentagon Reviewing ‘Unsafe’ Military Aircraft Encounter Over South China Sea

A U.S. Navy P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft from to the Skinny Dragons of Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 conducts a fly-by with the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) on Nov. 15, 2014. US Navy photo.

A U.S. Navy P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft from to the Skinny Dragons of Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 conducts a fly-by with the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) on Nov. 15, 2014. US Navy photo.

The Pentagon is reviewing an unsafe encounter between a People’s Liberation Army and U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea, a defense official told USNI News on Friday.

The Wednesday encounter between a Navy P-3C Orion the PLA KJ-200 was deemed “unsafe” according to a statement from U.S. Pacific Command.

“The U.S. Navy P-3C was on a routine mission operating in accordance with international law,” read the statement.
“The Department of Defense and U.S. Pacific Command are always concerned about unsafe interactions with any Chinese military forces.”

The Pentagon is now reviewing the encounter, Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Gary Ross told USNI News on Friday.

KJ-200 surveillance aircraft

People’s Liberation Army KJ-200 surveillance aircraft in 2015. Japan MoD Photo

“Both sides have made considerable efforts to ensure safe operations between ships and aircraft. We have robust communication channels to discuss encounters with the Chinese military, such as the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement mechanism,” he said.
“The Department of Defense will address the issue with China in appropriate diplomatic and military channels.”

The KJ-200, “is used by both the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and the air arm of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN, to provide air surveillance,” according to a report in Defense News.
“It is unclear to which branch of China’s armed forces the aircraft involved in this latest encounter belongs, although PLAN KJ-200s have been known to operate from air bases on China’s southern Hainan Island, 530 miles from Scarborough Shoal.”

Unlike other encounters in which PLA aircraft have flown aggressively against U.S. surveillance aircraft – for example a PLA fighter harassed a Navy P-8A Poseidon in 2014 – the incident may have been inadvertent.

The P-3C was in the midst of a turn when the crew received a potential collision alert, spotted the KJ-200 and took evasive action to avoid a crash, one defense official told USNI News on Friday.

The official said it was possible neither aircraft crews knew the other was there until the collision alarm.

The KJ-200, “is used by both the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and the air arm of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN, to provide air surveillance,” according to a report in Defense News

  • Paul 2

    This wasn’t inadvertent. It’s being played as ‘inadvertent’ for diplomatic reasons… not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    I dig the Thule luggage rack on the 200.

  • CharleyA

    “The official said it was possible neither aircraft crews knew the other was there until the collision alarm.” Let me get this straight: A Chinese AWACS didn’t know an air target “was there?” Are Chinese radars that bad?

  • b2

    Sheesh…why is this news? No offense for USNI but come on, two large “recon” planes like these, “seeing” each other in flight and coming within 1000′ of each other (I read that in MilTimes)? Is this military aviation we are reporting on here?…..

  • John Locke

    What, no tweets about it from Supreme Comrade Trumpskyy?

    That’s right, he’s more concerned about his daughter-wife’s line of goods getting yanked from Nordstroms.

    • Catdog

      Silly comment.

      • muzzleloader

        He is just another Trump hater looking to vent.

  • John B. Morgen

    Stop being a wimp—Navy, just take corrective action. Get on the Chinese tail. Where are the American fighters?