At the end of February, a J-11 fighter jet of the People’s Liberation Army of China flew for about an hour behind an American P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine patrol aircraft. The incident took place in the skies over the South China Sea.
What is known
A J-11 fighter armed with four air-to-air missiles flew within a few dozen meters of a P-8A Poseidon. The crew of the Boeing aircraft received a message from the ground station. Representatives of the People’s Liberation Army warned that Poseidon was approaching Chinese airspace and demanded to keep a safe distance.
U.S. officials said such incidents have been on the rise lately. For example, at the end of last year J-11 flew a few meters from the American RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft. China, in turn, accuses the US of spying with patrol planes over the South China Sea. Beijing has set up military bases on artificial islands in the region, leading to confrontations with other states.
American planes regularly fly over the South China Sea. One of the tasks is to fix the militarization of artificial islands. At the time of the J-11 incident, the Wall Street Journal journalists were on board the P-8A Poseidon. The crew used cameras and radar to monitor ships and objects on the islands.
The J-11 approached Poseidon a few dozen miles north of the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by China and Vietnam. The crew of the P-8A replied that they were in international airspace. After that, a warning came from the Chinese ground station not to approach.
The P-8A circled the islands to the south and continued across the South China Sea. When the plane left the area of the Paracel Islands, the Chinese J-11 fighter ceased pursuit. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not comment on the incident, and Poseidon flew over two military destroyers and landed on the Japanese island of Okinawa.