The United States government is now addressing a near-confrontation incident between a US plane and two Chinese jetfighters in East China Sea on Wednesday, May 17.
Washington officials said that two of China’s Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets flew within 150 feet of the WC-135 Constant Phoenix aircraft; with one flying inverted or upside down directly above.
The US WC-135 was on a routine mission over East China Sea where it has been ‘sniffing’ signs of nuclear activity in the region, particularly those that may come from North Korea.
US military officials did not immediately said whether the maneuver was unsafe, but characterized them as ‘unprofessional’
“While we are still investigating the incident, initial reports from the U.S. aircrew characterized the intercept as unprofessional,” Air Force Lt. Col. Hodge told CNN.
“The issue is being addressed with China through appropriate diplomatic and military channels,” Hodge added.
This is the second close encounter between US and Chinese aircrafts flying over contested territories in Asia-Pacific region.
In February, a US Navy P-3 Orion aircraft was forced to change course to avoid collision with a Chinese KJ-200 which came within 1000 feet of each other over the West Philippine Sea.
The incident triggered another minor diplomatic meltdown over the issue of international airspace in the region between the two world superpowers.