‘Highly Concerning Behavior’: Pentagon Declassifies Nearly 200 Intercepts Between US And Chinese Warplanes

 The Pentagon officials warned inadvertent conflict with China could erupt after releasing declassified pictures and videos on Tuesday showing Chinese aircraft displaying “highly concerning behavior” toward U.S. military planes in international airspace.

Dr. Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, told reporters on Tuesday that more than 180 incidents have occurred over the East and South China Sea region since 2021, signifying a sharp increase in coercive and risky operational behavior in the last decade.

“That’s nearly 200 cases where [People’s Liberation Army] operators have performed reckless maneuvers or discharged chaff or shot off flares or approached too rapidly or too close to U.S. aircraft,” Ratner said. “All as part of trying to interfere with the ability of U.S. forces to operate safely in places where we and every country in the world have every right to be under international law.”

The U.S. has operated in the region for decades, Ratner said. However, reports indicate that Chinese forces have previously used such tactics to harass and irritate U.S. aircraft and its allies in international airspace. The declassified documents reportedly captured tense moments between U.S. and Chinese aircraft.

Earlier this year, Ratner said a Chinese fighter jet “clearly armed” approached an American aircraft flying over the South China Sea traveling “hundreds of miles per hour” from approximately 30 feet away and lingered at narrow proximity for roughly 15 minutes.

The Pentagon reportedly said that other occurrences included one Chinese fighter jet flying 10 feet below a U.S. aircraft in the East China Sea and another fighter jet intimidating an American plane by displaying weapons from approximately 40 feet away in the South China Sea. A Chinese pilot then responded with an expletive toward the U.S. pilot, who attempted to make contact with the person.

Ratner said the example of behavior points to what the Pentagon’s next annual China Military Power Report (CMPR) will describe as “a centralized and concerted campaign to perform these risky behaviors in order to coerce a change in lawful U.S. operational activity and that of U.S. allies and partners.”

Admiral John C. Aquilino, commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, told reporters that such types of intercepts happen daily around the world but noted that the vast majority are conducted safely and without incident.

“I’m most concerned about the potential for accidents the way Dr. Ratner explained them, and those accidents could lead to miscalculation,” Aquilino said. “We must prevent these from happening in the theater.”

Pentagon officials said the interceptions from China fit into a wider effort to undermine international order by using naval and land maneuvers around foreign military equipment throughout the region.

“We’re seeing it against allies and partners,” Ratner said. “Not just the United States. We’re seeing it on land against our Indian partners. So this is part of a much broader picture.”

The news conference comes after months of the White House warning about Chinese military aggressiveness.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters in June that it “won’t be long before somebody gets hurt.”

‘Highly Concerning Behavior’: Pentagon Declassifies Nearly 200 Intercepts Between US And Chinese Warplanes ‘Highly Concerning Behavior’: Pentagon Declassifies Nearly 200 Intercepts Between US And Chinese Warplanes Reviewed by Your Destination on October 19, 2023 Rating: 5

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