Chinese intercept U.S. military spy plane over South China Sea

Chinese intercept U.S. military spy plane over South China Sea
Chinese J-11 fighter (Image: U.S. Department of Defense/Reuters file)

Two Chinese military aircraft intercepted a U.S. military reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea Tuesday.

Defense Department spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza said that the U.S. maritime patrol reconnaissance aircraft was flying in a “routine patrol” in international airspace on May 17 when “two tactical aircraft from the People’s Republic of China” intercepted the U.S. plane.

The two Chinese fighter jets were J-11s and flew approximately 50 feet from the U.S. aircraft, a Navy E-P3.

“Initial reports characterized the incident as unsafe,” Baldanza said in a written statement. “Over the past year, DoD has seen improvements in PRC actions, flying in a safe and professional manner.”

The incident is under investigation by U.S. Pacific Command. The U.S. has photos but they are classified.

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