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Chinese J-16 fighter in unsafe intercept of Australian P-8 over South China Sea

J-16 releases flares in front of Australian P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft
File photo of a Chinese J-16 fighter

A Chinese J-16 fighter carried out an unsafe intercept of an Australian P-8 maritime patrol aircraft over the South China Sea, the Australian defense ministry has revealed.

The “very dangerous maneuver” occurred on May 26 in international airspace, the defense ministry added.

Australia’s new defense minister Richard Marles said the Australian government raised its concerns about the incident with the Chinese government.

“What occurred was that the J-16 aircraft flew very close to the side of the P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft,” Marles elaborated, saying that the Chinese fighter released flares as it flew close to the side of the Australian patrol aircraft.

“The J-16 then accelerated and cut across the nose of the P-8, settling in front of the P-8 at very close distance. At that moment, it then released a bundle of chaff, which contains small pieces of aluminium, some of which were ingested into the engine of the P-8 aircraft,” Marles explained.

“Quite obviously, this is very dangerous.”

“Defense has for decades undertaken maritime surveillance activities in the region and does so in accordance with international law, exercising the right to freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace,” a statement from the Australian defense ministry said.

The May 26 incident follows an encounter from February this year, when a Chinese destroyer hit an Australian P-8A Poseidon with a military-grade laser as the Poseidon flew over Australia’s northern approaches.