“Risky” Chinese Intercepts of U.S. Warplanes Increase

October 18, 2023
Chinese fighter jet flying 40 feet away from U.S. aircraft

The PRC [People’s Republic of China] can and must end this behavior …

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Dr. Ely Ratner in a Pentagon press briefing on Tuesday, announcing that over the past two years, there has been more “coercive and risky” Chinese military intercepts of U.S. warplanes operating in international airspace than in the decade prior.

Big Picture: U.S. Defense Department officials said since the fall of 2021, there have been more than 180 “coercive and risky” intercepts conducted by the Chinese military to U.S. military aircraft above the East and South China Sea in international airspace; Ratner said, “That’s nearly 200 cases where PLA operators have performed reckless maneuvers, or discharged chaff, or shot off flares, or approached too rapidly or too close to U.S. aircraft,” noting an increase in these types of intercepts have also occurred to U.S. allies and partners. The announcement goes along with declassified footage released by the Defense Department of some of these “highly concerning” intercepts.

Why It Matters: While “officials said the Chinese flights were risky and aggressive in nature,” they “stopped short of calling most of them unsafe – a specific term that is used only in the most egregious cases,” The Associated Press explains. Ratner said, “The bottom line is that in many cases, this type of operational behavior can cause accidents, and dangerous accidents can lead to inadvertent conflict.” A more comprehensive report provided by the DoD is forthcoming. Read more HERE.

For More:

Department of Defense Releases Declassified Images, Videos of Coercive and Risky PLA Operational Behavior (U.S. Dept. of Defense)

Pentagon releases footage of hundreds of ‘highly concerning’ aircraft intercepts by Chinese planes (The Associated Press)

Chinese fighter jets buzz U.S. planes in dramatic new videos (The Washington Post)

by Leah Grainery, based in Texas