Chinese fighters intercepted a U.S. Navy spy plane Sunday, according to U.S. defense officials.
Two J-10 fighter jets buzzed a U.S. Navy EP-3 surveillance aircraft in the East China Sea, Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Lt. Col. Christopher Logan told The Daily Caller New Foundation. The U.S. aircraft was operating in international airspace at the time of the intercept, which the air crew deemed “unsafe and unprofessional.”
One of the Chinese aircraft passed in front of the American plane at a distance of less than 300 feet, forcing it to “take evasive action to avoid a collision,” U.S. officials told Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson. The Chinese fighter passed underneath the U.S. plane and then pulled up, forcing the American plane to change course, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis revealed Monday at a press briefing.
Despite China’s actions, U.S. operations were able to continue unimpeded.
Chinese fighter jets have conducted several intercepts of U.S. aircraft in recent months. A U.S. Navy P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft was intercepted in international airspace 150 miles southeast of Hong Kong in May. During the intercept, one Chinese fighter passed in front of the plane, impacting its ability to maneuver, according to Reuters.
In another incident that same month, Chinese fighters harassed a U.S. Air Force WC-135 Constant Phoenix in the East China Sea, with one Chinese fighter flying upside down over the top of the American plane, CNN reported.
The number of Chinese intercepts have been on the rise since last year, as China moves to assert its dominance in its region.
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