A US Navy P-3 plane and a Chinese military aircraft came close to each other over the South China Sea in an incident the Navy believes was inadvertent, a US official told Reuters on Thursday.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the aircraft came within 1,000 feet (305 meters) of each other on Wednesday in the vicinity of the Scarborough Shoal, between the Philippines and the Chinese mainland.
The official added that such incidents involving Chinese and American aircraft are infrequent, with only two having taken place in 2016.
The US aircraft was “on a routine mission operating in accordance with international law,” US Pacific Command said in a statement to Reuters.
“On Feb. 8, an interaction characterized by US Pacific Command as `unsafe` occurred in international air space above the South China Sea, between a Chinese KJ-200 aircraft and a US Navy P-3C aircraft,” it said.
The KJ-200 is a propeller airborne early warning and control aircraft based originally on the old Soviet-designed An-12.
“The Department of Defense and US Pacific Command are always concerned about unsafe interactions with Chinese military forces,” Pacific Command added.
“We will address the issue in appropriate diplomatic and military channels.”
China`s defence and foreign ministries did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Read More…