Watch as Chinese fighter jet nearly smashes into US ‘nuke sniffer’ plane in dramatic video over disputed South China Sea | The Sun
DRAMATIC footage captures the moment a Chinese fighter jet almost smashed into a US air force plane during tense scenes over the South China Sea.
The Chinese aircraft came within just 20ft of the American plane, forcing it into emergency manoeuvres, according to the US military.
Washington has slammed Beijing for what it branded the increasingly dangerous behaviour of its aircraft.
The latest incident shows a Chinese Navy J-11 fighter jet almost grazing the wingtips of an American RC-135 in a mid-air near-fatal collision.
It took place on December 21 over contested waters of the South China Sea, the US military said in a statement.
Boeing RC-135s are large reconnaissance aircraft also known as "nuke sniffers" because of their capability to test the atmosphere for evidence of radioactivity.
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In the brief clip, the J-11 flies almost alongside the RC-135, getting closer, and forcing the American pilot into a rapid descent to avoid a catastrophic crash.
The Chinese jet got to within 20 feet of the American plane's nose, according to a US military spokesperson.
Neither pilot involved has been named, but the US has officially complained to the Chinese government, according to an official.
In a statement, it said: "We expect all countries in the Indo-Pacific region to use international airspace safely and in accordance with international law."
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A military source told The New York Times that officials had waited eight days before releasing information about the close encounter because a "disclosure of this type takes time to verify details, obtain and declassify imagery and make proper notifications to other government agencies".
The Times also said that on December 22, a day after the incident, the US Indo-Pacific Command issued a statement saying it was "closely tracking" Chinese activity in the South and East China Seas as well as the Philippine Sea.
China's embassy in Washington DC is yet to comment on the incident.
Previously, China has hit out at the US for sending ships and aircraft into the South China Sea.
We expect all countries in the Indo-Pacific region to use international airspace safely and in accordance with international law
US military planes and ships often carry out surveillance operations in the region.
Last year, US spy planes were deployed to Russia and Taiwan after Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping staged joint war games.
China claims much of the South China Sea as its own, including waters that belong to neighbouring Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Beijing has continued to greatly build up its military presence on disputed islands in the South China Sea, with terrifying images showing buildings which could be used to fire surface-to-air and anti-ship missiles.
It comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing, following months of war games from China threatening its neighbour Taiwan.
Earlier this year, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a controversial visit to Taiwan, triggering a furious response from China.
China's leader Xi has refused to rule out taking Taiwan by force, as his regime continues to claim that the island nation is a breakaway province which must be brought back into the fold.
Addressing the congress of China’s ruling Communist Party in October, Xi emphasised national security mentioning it a record 89 times.
In August, the US unleashed a massive show of force over the Pacific Ocean, with nuclear B2 stealth bombers being deployed in a terrifying warning to China.
That same month, US warships sailed past Taiwan, leading China to put its forces on "high alert".
In September, the US agreed to send $1bn of Vampire missiles to Taiwan to shoot down Chinese drones amid surging fears of invasion.
China responded with intimidating war games simulating the blitzing of US ships in a series of "Pearl Harbour-style attacks" designed to stop America from intervening in Taiwan.
In November, Russian and Chinese nuclear bombers took part in chilling war drills designed to intimidate the West, after the US warned it is ready to strike "anytime, anywhere".
And Chinese state media even threatened to nuke Australia in response to the US deploying giant B-52 bombers to the country.
Xi for his part told his country to prepare for war, warning that China's security situation is "increasingly unstable".
Just this week, China unleashed 71 aircraft into Taiwan's air defence zone in the largest military action of its kind to date.
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