The Pentagon has declassified 15 videos of Chinese pilots engaging in “coercive and risky” behaviour against US jets in lawful international airspace.
The chilling footage shows the Chinese fighter jets deploying a number of intimidating tactics, such as shooting flares, “flashing their weapons” and flying as close as within 20 feet.
The posturing is consistent with Chinese activity since 2021, with 180 instances of such behavior reported during this period.
The foreign state engaged in even more aerial skirmishes in the decades that preceded.
US officials are dubbing the tactics part of a “centralized and concerted campaign” to challenge American air supremacy the in Indo-Pacific region.
In one particularly brazen encounter, from July 12, a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) fighter jet deploys eight flares just 900 feet from a US plane above the East China Sea.
Another taken on July 7 shows a Chinese plane lurking a mere 20 feet away from a US fighter jet above the South China Sea.
Similarly, a video captured on February 15 shows a PLA plane within 70 feet of a Chinese asset. The aircraft is so close the US pilot is able to clearly film the Chinese pilot opposite.
One of the most egregious encounters, which took place on June 22, involved a PLA “flashing its weapons” at a US pilot before swearing at them over the radio.
In an accompanying description, the Pentagon said the Chinese asset was “approaching a distance of just 40 feet before repeatedly flying above and below the US aircraft and flashing its weapons.
“After the US operator radioed the PLA fighter jet, the PLA pilot responded using explicit language, including an expletive”.
And in May, US pilots were bounced around their cockpit after a Chinese jet zoomed past the nose of their plane, one declassified video shows.
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