Official: Pair of Chinese Fighters Unsafely Intercept U.S. Navy Aircraft Over South China Sea

May 26, 2017 3:14 PM
A P-3C Orion aircraft in 2016. US Navy Photo

Two Chinese fighters unsafely intercepted a U.S. Navy P-3C Orion anti-submarine warfare aircraft over the South China Sea this week, a U.S. defense official told USNI News on Friday.
The P-3C was flying about 150 miles southeast of Hainan Island on patrol when it was engaged by two Chengdu J-10 fighters on May 24 at about 7:30 A.M. local time.

While one fighter took up position about 800 yards off the Orion’s right wing, the other maneuvered about 200 yards in front of the P-3 and began making slow turns in front of the U.S. aircraft. The crew of the P-3 determined the behavior of the Chinese aircraft during the 20-minute encounter was “unsafe,” the official told USNI News.

Chinese fighters have been known to intercept U.S. aircraft operating near Hainan, a major center of the People’s Liberation Army Navy submarine operations.

Two Chengdu J-10 People’s Liberation Army Air Force fighters. PLAAF Photo

In May of 2016, the U.S. complained of an unsafe intercept of an U.S. EP-3E Aries II by a pair of Shenyang J-11 fighters near Hainan. In 2014, A U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon was intercepted by a J-11 near Hainan island in an encounter where the J-11 cut in front of the Poseidon to show off its weapons loadout.

In 2001, an attempted intercept of an E-P3 Aries by a People’s Liberation Army Navy Shenyang J-8 Finback in the region resulted in the death of the Finback pilot and the Aries making an emergency landing on Hainan Island.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
Follow @samlagrone

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox