Australian Surveillance Plane has Run-in with Chinese Warplane Over South China Sea

An Australian surveillance plane had a serious run-in with a Shenyang J-16 Chinese warplane on May 26 over the South China Sea. The encounter forced the RAAF P-8A Poseidon aircraft to return to base. This is the first incident since the Australian Labor Party was elected on May 21.

Australian surveillance plane on a routine flight in international air space

Defense Minister Richard Marles said the Chinese J-16 flew very close to the Australian plane and released flares and chaff that were ingested by the engines of the Poseidon, a converted Boeing 737-800.

“The J-16 … accelerated and cut across the nose of the P-8, settling in front of the P-8 at very close distance,” he told reporters in Melbourne. “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. Quite obviously, this is very dangerous.”


China has become increasingly belligerent in the area of the South China Sea, since it claims the entire area. A ruling at the Hague in 2016 deleted their claims, but it has had no effect on Chinese behavior. Australia lodged a diplomatic complaint with Beijing over this latest incident over its surveillance plane.

We’re operating completely within our rights … most of our trade traverses the South China Sea. This incident will not deter Australia from continuing to engage in these activities, which are within our rights and international law to assure that there is freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, because that is fundamentally in our nation’s interest.”

Defense Minister Richard Marles

In February, a Chinese ship used a laser to illuminate an Australian P-8A surveillance plane that reportedly endangered the air crew. The South China Sea, as we have reported previously on numerous occasions, is a hotly contested area. The US and allies frequently send ships through the region in order to keep the shipping lanes open. China has fully militarized their holdings in the South China sea, and with the recent alliance with the Solomon Islands, it is likely they intend to increase such plans even more.

No one was injured in this latest incident, but it is a harbinger of things to come.


H/T Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children


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Faye Higbee

Faye Higbee is the columnist manager for Uncle Sam's Misguided Children. All of her posts on Conservative Firing Line are also posted on Uncle Sam's.

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