Washington, July 25: Two Chinese fighter jets obstructed a US Navy surveillance plane over the East China Sea, United States officials said on Monday. The officials said that one of the Chinese jets came within about 300 feet of the American aircraft. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the officials said that the initial reports showed that one of the Chinese jets, Chinese J-10 aircraft, came close to the United States EP-3 plane on Sunday to cause the American Navy surveillance plane to change its direction over the East China Sea at the weekend.
The officials said that one of the Chinese jets was armed. The interception was reported 80 nautical miles (148 kilometres) from the Chinese city of Qingdao. The Pentagon said that the encounter between the Chinese jets and US plane was unsafe. However, the vast majority of interactions were safe, the Pentagon said.
A similar incident was reported in May when two Chinese SU-30 aircraft obstructed a US aircraft over the East China Sea. The aircraft, as per the reports, was designed to detect radiation. China has closely been monitoring any such activity around its coastline.
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In the year 2001, a collision was reported when a Chinese fighter jet intercepted an American spy plane. The collision resulted in the death of a Chinese pilot and forced the American plane to make an emergency landing at a base on Hainan. The United States had to apologise for the release of the 24 United States air crew members. However, the interception soured the relations between the United States and China in the early days of President George W Bush’s first term in office.
“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. Lieutenant-General Sam Greaves, Director of the Missile Defense Agency, said in a statement that a test would be carried out at the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska.