A CNN camera crew that was on a U.S. Navy plane over the South China Sea on Friday captured a fighter jet from communist China harassing the aircraft while it made a routine flight.
The U.S. Navy P-8A reconnaissance plane was flying at 21,500 feet about 30 miles from the contested Paracel Islands where China has military bases.
“American aircraft. Chinese airspace is 12 nautical miles,” a Chinese woman from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said over the radio. “Not approaching any more or you bear all responsibility.”
The U.S. plane was quickly intercepted by a Chinese PLA J-11 fighter jet that flew just a couple hundred feet from the reconnaissance plane for a period of about 15 minutes before flying away.
The report said that the interaction underscored just how serious tensions are between the two countries.
The incident comes just a month after the U.S. first detected a Chinese spy balloon over U.S. airspace on January 28, which was shot down in early February off the coast of South Carolina after President Joe Biden allowed it to travel across the entire country, flying over sensitive military sites, over the period of a week.
The U.S. military released a new close-up photo of the spy balloon this week that was taken by the pilot of a U-2 spy plane who was monitoring the balloon as it flew over the U.S.
The U.S. Department of Defense just released this photo of the Chinese government spy balloon that was taken by the pilot of a U-2 spy plane. pic.twitter.com/gxXn4RiZTO
— Yashar Ali 🐘 یاشار (@yashar) February 22, 2023
When Biden finally gave the order to shoot it down over the Atlantic Ocean, the U.S. military used a single air-to-air AIM-9X Sidewinder missile fired from an F-22 Raptor to carry out the task.
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Glen David VanHerck, Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), said that the balloon was up to 200 feet tall and weighed “in excess of a couple thousand pounds.”
After the spy balloon was shot down, the U.S. subsequently downed three more unidentified objects over Alaska, Lake Huron, and Canada.
“It is also common for U.S. balloons to illegally enter the airspace of other countries,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin claimed without evidence. “Since last year, U.S. high-altitude balloons have illegally flown over China’s airspace more than 10 times without the approval of Chinese authorities.”
National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said that the communist nation’s claims were a lie and that China was trying to deflect from the embarrassing situation they have caused.
“It is China that has a high-altitude surveillance balloon program for intelligence collection, connected to the People’s Liberation Army, that it has used to violate the sovereignty of the United States and over 40 countries across five continents,” Watson tweeted.
“This is the latest example of China scrambling to do damage control,” she continued. “It has repeatedly and wrongly claimed the surveillance balloon it sent over the United States was a weather balloon and to this day has failed to offer any credible explanations for its intrusion into our airspace and the airspace of others.”