Australia says Chinese fighter jet intercepted surveillance craft in May

SYDNEY: A Chinese fighter aircraft dangerously intercepted an Australian military surveillance plane in the South China Sea region in May, Australia’s Defence Department said on Sunday (Jun 5).

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft was intercepted by a Chinese J-16 fighter during “routine maritime surveillance activity” in international airspace in the region on May 26, the department said in a statement.

“The intercept resulted in a dangerous manoeuvre which posed a safety threat to the P-8 aircraft and its crew,” it said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters in Perth that his government had expressed concerns to China “through appropriate channels”.

China’s embassy in Australia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Defence Minister Richard Marles said that the Chinese jet flew very close in front of the RAAF aircraft and released a “bundle of chaff” containing small pieces of aluminium that were ingested into the Australian aircraft’s engine.

“Quite obviously this is very dangerous,” Marles told ABC television.