Chinese fighter jet nearly collides with American B-52 bomber over South China Sea: US officials

The fighter got within 10 feet of the U.S. aircraft, according to officials.

October 26, 2023, 3:43 PM

A Chinese fighter pilot nearly crashed into an American B-52 bomber over the South China Sea during a nighttime intercept on Tuesday, according to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

The Chinese pilot "demonstrated poor airmanship" in his J-11 jet, flying within just 10 feet of the B-52 bomber "with uncontrolled excessive speed," putting both planes in danger of colliding, according to U.S. officials.

A J-11B fighter jet of the People's Liberation Army Air Force performs during an air show, Aug. 26, 2022, in Changchun, China.
Wang Heda/VCG via Getty Images

Video released by the U.S. on Thursday in a social media post shows how dangerously close the Chinese jet got to the American aircraft.

"The PRC intercept was conducted at night, with limited visibility, in a manner contrary to international air safety rules and norms," a news release from Indo-Pacific Command said.

"We are concerned this pilot was unaware of how close he came to causing a collision," the release said.

A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress aircraft takes off, May 12, 2019.
Tech. Sgt. Nichelle Anderson/USAF

According to Indo-Pacific Command, Tuesday's near collision is the latest in a string of more than 180 "unsafe, unprofessional, and other behaviors that seek to impinge upon the ability of the United States and other nations to safely conduct operations" since fall 2021.

Last week, the Pentagon released videos and descriptions of 15 recent instances of what it called "coercive and risky operational behavior" by China's People's Liberation Army against U.S. aircraft, though none of those involved a Chinese fighter harassing a U.S. bomber.

None of the 15 cases of "risky and coercive" PRC pilot behavior released by PACOM last week involved U.S. bombers, according to a U.S. official.

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