China denies jets made risky moves
BEIJING — China denied Tuesday that its fighter pilots operated dangerously during an encounter with a U.S. surveillance plane in international airspace in which the American pilot took evasive action to avoid a possible collision.
Spokesman Ren Guoqiang said in a statement on the Defense Ministry’s microblog that the performance of the pilots of the two J-10 fighters was “legal, necessary and professional.”
Ren criticized frequent close-in surveillance runs by U.S. planes as raising the chance of accidents, saying such missions “threatened China’s national security, harmed China-U.S. sea-air military safety, endangered the safety of pilots from the two sides and were the root cause of China-U.S. sea-air unexpected incidents.”
U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said the Chinese fighters intercepted the EP-3 surveillance plane Sunday in international airspace between the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea, in an area he described as west of the Korean Peninsula.
Davis said one of the Chinese planes approached at a high rate of speed from beneath the American plane, then slowed and pulled up, prompting the EP-3 pilot to take evasive action.