The Department of Defense has made public a series of images and videos that would show “unprofessional” and “reckless” maneuvers performed by the Chinese pilots during the close encounters with the U.S. spy planes. However, some of those clips don’t seem to show anything too dangerous.
On Oct. 17, 2023, the Department of Defense released declassified material, including photos and videos, shot during 15 recent cases of what they call “coercive and risky operational behavior by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force and Navy against U.S. aircraft operating lawfully in international airspace in the East and South China Sea regions”.
According to the Pentagon, “The declassified images and videos were captured during lawful U.S. air operations, during which PLA operators engaged in coercive and risky activities, including reckless maneuvers, close approaches at high speeds in the air, releasing objects and projectiles like flares, and other dangerous behavior.”
While some images really show the Chinese combat aircraft performing some dangerous maneuvers in close proximity of the intercepted aircraft, others seem to be pretty normal close encounters. However, the reason may also be that the imagery was not taken in the moment when the aggressive/dangerous maneuver was performed.
Anyway, in the last few years we have often reported about the Pentagon’s protests for the “reckless” and “unprofessional” behaviour of the Russian or Chinese pilots buzzing their spyplanes, however, as an RC-135 pilot told us commenting similar incidents, “what passes for dangerous and provocative today was ho-hum to recon crews of my generation”.
Generally speaking, cutting across the nose of the intercepted aircraft, forcing it to fly through the fighter’s wake turbulence, in certainly considered an unprofessional and risky way of…
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