ACT OF AGGRESSION? Chinese jets intercept US Air Force nuke ‘sniffer’

The U.S. said Thursday that two Chinese SU-30 jets conducted an “unprofessional” maneuver over international airspace above the East China Sea.

An Air Force spokeswoman told Reuters that “the issue is being addressed with China through appropriate diplomatic and military channels.

The U.S. crew aboard the WC-135 Constant Phoenix aircraft relayed details about the encounter. The move was considered “unprofessional” due to the distance between planes and their speed.

The WC-135 aircraft is specifically designed to collect data about possible nuclear explosions, Bloomberg reported.

This is not the first encounter that a U.S. military plane had with the Chinese.

In February, a Chinese early warning aircraft and U.S. Navy patrol plane had an “unsafe” encounter over the South China Sea, again over international airspace.

Such incidents have occurred occasionally over and within the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety. Although China says it respects freedom of navigation in the strategically vital area, it objects to U.S. military activities, especially the collection of signals intelligence by U.S. craft operating near the coast of its southern island province of Hainan, home to several military installations.

In recent years, the sides have signed a pair of agreements aimed at preventing such encounters from sparking an international crisis, as happened in April 2001 when a Chinese jet fighter collided with a U.S. surveillance plane over the South China Sea, leading to the death of the Chinese pilot and China’s detention of the 24 U.S. crew members for 10 days.

The Associated Press contributed to this report 

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