The RAAF P-8 Poseidon was conducting routine surveillance in international airspace above the South China Sea on May 26 when the J-16 jet flew “very close”, set off flares and dropped chaff in its path.
A Chinese fighter jet intercepted a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Australian P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft last month, performing a “dangerous manoeuvre” in a dramatic mid-air incident, the Australian Department of Defence has revealed in a press statement.
‘Defence advises that on 26 May 2022, a RAAF P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft was intercepted by a Chinese J-16 fighter aircraft during a routine maritime surveillance activity in international airspace in the South China Sea region.
‘The intercept resulted in a dangerous manoeuvre which posed a safety threat to the P-8 aircraft and its crew.
‘The Australian Government has raised its concerns about the incident with the Chinese Government.
‘Defence has for decades undertaken maritime surveillance activities in the region and does so in accordance with international law, exercising the right to freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace.
‘Defence will not be commenting further on this matter.’
A report from 9 News provided more details on the incident. The RAAF P-8A Poseidon was conducting routine surveillance in international airspace above the South China Sea on May 26 when the J-16 jet flew “very close”, set off flares and dropped chaff in its path.
Defence Minister Richard Marles said the federal government had raised its concerns over the “very dangerous” intercept with the Chinese government.
The Poseidon returned to base and its crew was unharmed.
According to Marles the J-16 flew near the RAAF plane before releasing “small pieces of aluminium” into the air.
“What occurred was that the J-16 aircraft flew very close to the side of the P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft,” Marles said.
“In flying close to the side, it released flares.
“The J-16 then accelerated and cut across the nose of the P-8, settling in front of the P-8 at very close distance.
“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.”
Marles said Australia was “operating completely within our rights and international law” and would continue to do so in the South China Sea.
“I want to make it also very clear that 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,” he said.
The P-8A Poseidon uses advanced sensors and mission systems, including an advanced multi-role radar, high-definition cameras, and an acoustic system with four times the processing capacity of RAAF’s current AP-3C Orions.
The first aircraft arrived in Canberra on Nov. 16 2016, with the remaining deliveries to be completed by March 2020.
The P-8A Poseidon is a modified Boeing 737-800ERX, bringing together a highly reliable airframe and high-bypass turbo fan jet engine with a fully connected, state-of-the-art open architecture mission system. This combination, coupled with next-generation sensors, will dramatically improve anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) capabilities.
Photo credit: 中華民國國防部 Ministry of National Defense and U.S. Navy