Chinese jets intercept US aircraft over East China Sea, US says

Frederick Owens
May 19, 2017

Two Chinese Sukhoi Su-30 jets have conducted an "unprofessional" intercept of a United States aircraft, the USA military said.

"Two Chinese SU-30 aircraft intercepted a U.S. WC-135 Constant Phoenix aircraft conducting a routine mission in worldwide airspace over the East China Sea", said Lieutenant Colonel Lori Hodge, a spokesperson for the U.S Air Force's Pacific Air Forces in a statement.

The Pentagon described the Su-30's actions - which are believed to have included flying close to the Constant Phoenix at high speed - as "unprofessional".

The Constant Phoenix is a "sniffer" plane created to collect samples from the atmosphere for the objective of detecting and identifying nuclear explosions.

The planes have been used in the past to collect evidence of nuclear tests conducted by North Korea, according to CNN.

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"Distances always have a bearing on how we characterize interactions", Hodge said, adding a USA military investigation into the intercept was underway. "The WC-135 was operating in accordance with worldwide law".

The four-engine WC-135, also known as a "nuke sniffer, " was based out of the Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska, according to KMTV.

The U.S. deemed the incident "unprofessional" and is addressing its concerns to China about the incident through diplomatic and military channels. USA defense officials in February revealed an "unsafe" encounter with a Chinese surveillance plane above the South China Sea, according to CNN.

In that incident, a US official told CNN the US Navy plane had to alter course to ensure there wasn't a collision with what one official said was a People's Liberation Army Air Force KJ-200.

US and Chinese planes had a unsafe encounter earlier this year.

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