USAF Recon aircraft forced to take evasive action to avoid Chinese fighter

A Chinese fighter aircraft flies dangerously close to a US Air Force Recon aircraft.
Photo Credit: US Air Force

LONDON – A United States Air Force (USAF) Boeing RC135 reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea was forced to take evasive action after a Chinese J-11 fighter aircraft flew dangerously close to it during an interception.

The US Indo-Pacific Command have stated that during the incident which occurred in international airspace on December 21, the Chinese fighter jet flew to within 20 feet of the nose of the USAF Boeing RC135.

A Chinese fighter jet intercepts a US Air Force reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea.
Photo Credit: US Air Force video footage

US Indo-Pacific Command statement

The US Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) have released a formal statement detailing the incident, saying:

“On Dec. 21 (China Standard Time), a People’s Liberation Army – Navy J-11 fighter pilot performed an unsafe maneuver during an intercept of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft, which was lawfully conducting routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace.

The PLAN pilot flew an unsafe maneuver by flying in front of and within 20 feet of the nose of the RC-135, forcing the RC-135 to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Joint Force is dedicated to a free and open Indo-Pacific region and will continue to fly, sail and operate at sea and in international airspace with due regard for the safety of all vessels and aircraft under international law.

We expect all countries in the Indo-Pacific region to use international airspace safely and in accordance with international law.”

USINDOPACCOM has also released the video footage of the incident. The video of the incident can be viewed here.


The United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR) encompasses about half the earth’s surface, stretching from the waters off the west coast of the U.S. to the western border of India, and from Antarctica to the North Pole. 

There are few regions as culturally, socially, economically, and geo-politically diverse as the Asia-Pacific. 

The 36 nations comprising the Asia-Pacific region are home to more than 50% of the world’s population, 3,000 different languages, several of the world’s largest militaries, and five nations allied with the U.S. through mutual defense treaties. 

Two of the three largest economies are located in the Asia-Pacific along with 10 of the 14th smallest. The AOR includes the most populous nation in the world, the largest democracy, and the largest Muslim-majority nation. 

More than one third of Asia-Pacific nations are smaller, island nations that include the smallest republic in the world and the smallest nation in Asia.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 3 Min Read
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