US officials: Chinese jets intercept US surveillance plane

WASHINGTON, July 24 (Reuters) - Two Chinese fighter jets intercepted a U.S. Navy surveillance plane over the East China Sea at the weekend, with one jet coming within about 300 feet (91 meters) of the American aircraft, U.S. officials said on Monday.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said initial reports showed one of the Chinese J-10 aircraft came close enough to the U.S. EP-3 plane on Sunday to cause the American aircraft to change direction.

One of the officials said the Chinese jet was armed and the interception happened 80 nautical miles (148 km) from the Chinese city of Qingdao.

The Pentagon said the encounter between the aircraft was unsafe, but added that the vast majority of interactions were safe.

China's Defence Ministry said the actions of its pilots were "legal, necessary and professional" and performed "in accordance with the law and the rules."

"Close-in reconnaissance by U.S. aircraft threatens China's national security, harms Sino-U.S. maritime and air military safety, endangers the personal safety of both sides' pilots and is the root cause of unexpected incidents," it said.

The United States should immediately stop these military activities, which are unsafe, unprofessional and unfriendly, it added.

Incidents such as Sunday's intercept are relatively common.

In May, two Chinese SU-30 aircraft intercepted a U.S. aircraft designed to detect radiation while it was flying in international air space over the East China Sea.

China closely monitors any U.S. military activity around its coastline.

In 2001, an intercept of a U.S. spy plane by a Chinese fighter jet resulted in a collision that killed the Chinese pilot and forced the American plane to make an emergency landing at a base on Hainan.

The 24 U.S. air crew members were held for 11 days until Washington apologized for the incident. That encounter soured U.S.-Chinese relations in the early days of President George W. Bush's first term in office.

Separately, the Pentagon said the U.S. military would soon carry out another test of it's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

"These tests are done as a routine measure to ensure that the system is ready and... they are scheduled well in advance of any other real world geopolitical events going on," Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told reporters.

RELATED: 23 examples of amazing camouflage on military planes

24 PHOTOS
23 examples of amazing camouflage on military planes
See Gallery
23 examples of amazing camouflage on military planes

A Russian SU-27 Flanker aircraft banks away with an RAF Typhoon in the background. RAF Typhoons were scrambled on June 14, 2014, to intercept multiple Russian aircraft as part of NATO's ongoing mission to police Baltic airspace.

Photo courtesy: RAF/Ministry of Defense/Crown Copyright

A Russian Su-35 Super Flanker soars through the clouds.

Photo courtesy: Aleksander Markin/www.flickr.com

Two RF-4Es of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force patrol above Japan.

Photo courtesy: Japan Air Self-Defense Force/Wikimedia

Israeli F-16s fly low and fast inside the Ramon Crater in the Negev Desert in Israel.

Photo courtesy: Israeli Defense Force

An Israeli air force F-15I maneuvers away after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Nevada's test and training ranges.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Kevin Gruenwald

A Dutch F-16 takes off.

Photo courtesy: Reuters

Two Israeli air force F-15s fly in Nevada's Red Flag aerial-training operation in 2004.

Photo courtesy: TSGT KEVIN J. GRUENWALD, USAF via Commons

An Iranian Su-24 waits to take off from Mehrabad International Airport for a training flight.

Photo courtesy: Shahram Sharifi

A Russian Su-30 glides through the air during a test flight.

Photo courtesy: Aleksander Markin

Russia's new T-50 prototype tests its engines in flight.

Photo courtesy: Wikipedia Commons

An Indian air force SU-30K Flanker lands following a simulated combat mission with US Air Force F-15 Eagles deployed from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown

An F-16 Fighting Falcon flies with naval camouflage.

Photo courtesy: Todd Miller

An F/A-18, belonging to the VFA-122 "Flying Eagles" based out of Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, and flown by the Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS), blends seamlessly into the desert background.

Photo courtesy: Todd Miller

A US Navy F/A-18C Hornets of the Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-125 "Rough Raiders" flies in formation flight out of Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, with an unusual tiger-stripe camouflage.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation

An attack squadron VA-72 Blue Hawks Vought A-7E Corsair II aircraft of the commander, Carrier Air Wing, flies homeward after a deployment in the Persian Gulf area during Operation Desert Storm.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy

A formation of F-4 Phantom II fighter aircraft display their unique camos in formation during a heritage-flight demonstration.

Photo courtesy: USAF - MSgt Michael Ammons

OV-10s from the 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron show off their woodland camouflage at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

Photo courtesy: USAF Official Photo

A flight of Aggressor F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons with various camouflage schemes fly in formation over the Nevada Test and Training Range on June 5, 2008.

Photo courtesy: USAF

A Douglas A-1E Skyraider warbird, painted as "AF 132-683" of the South Vietnamese air force, in 2008.

Photo courtesy: Fly-by-Owen via Wikimedia Commons

US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft from Marine Attack Squadron 513 at Yuma Marine Corps air base, in Arizona, fly in formation during Operation Desert Shield.

Photo courtesy: SSgt Scott Stewart, USAF

A B-52 Stratofortress from the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron leads a formation of Japanese Air Self-Defense Force F-2s from the 6th Squadron, US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 18th Aggressor Squadron, and a US Navy EA-6B Prowler from the Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136 over Guam on February 10, 2009.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald

An F-15C-27-MC Eagle with naval camouflage from the 65th Aggressor Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Air Force

An F-16 Fighting Falcon, showing aggressor paint scheme, disconnects from a KC-10 Extender after being refueled during a Red Flag-Alaska exercise on April 22 and is ready to reengage friendly forces.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jonathan Snyder

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The director of the Missile Defense Agency, Lieutenant General Sam Greaves, said in a statement that a test would be carried out at the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska.

Last month the United States shot down a simulated, incoming intermediate-range ballistic missile similar to the ones being developed by countries like North Korea, in a test of the nation's THAAD missile defenses.

The United States deployed THAAD to South Korea this year to guard against North Korea's shorter-range missiles. That has drawn fierce criticism from China, which says the system's powerful radar can penetrate deep into its territory. (Reporting by Idrees Ali; Additional reporting by Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Grant McCool and Clarence Fernandez)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.