Tech10 feet from a disaster. Pentagon declassified near encounter footage

10 feet from a disaster. Pentagon declassified near encounter footage

Chinese fighter J-11
Chinese fighter J-11
Images source: © U.S. Department of Defense

4:52 PM EDT, October 27, 2023

On Tuesday, October 17, the US Department of Defense released a series of declassified photos and videos, showcasing harrowing, airborne encounters between American and Chinese pilots. Not long after, on October 25, over the South China Sea, a similar incident unfolded. According to Pentagon reports, a J-11 fighter from the People's Liberation Army of China made a "dangerous interception" of an American strategic bomber, the B-52.

In a 38-second clip released by the Pentagon, one can clearly see the Chinese J-11 fighter pilot approaching the American B-52 Stratofortress to a precarious distance of approximately 10 feet. Criticizing his dangerously unprofessional conduct, the US Department of Defense emphasized the pilot's poor flying skills manifested in his accelerated, uncontrolled approach. They further noted his unawareness of the potential catastrophe looming ahead.

Chinese Fighter Executes Dangerous Maneuver

"The interception by the PRC took place under limited visibility at night, flouting international regulations and aviation safety standards. A military aircraft intentionally flying close to another should exercise professional flying skills and prioritize the safety of the other aircraft," stated the Pentagon.

The US Department of Defense reveals that since the fall of 2021, there have been over 180 similar encounters between Chinese military aircraft and those of the US and other countries. Some images and footage of these incidents were declassified and made public by the Pentagon on October 17. In their release, the Americans explicitly condemned these aggressive actions against aircraft "operating legally in the international airspace of the East Sea and South China Sea regions".

Further elaboration reveals that these incidents often involved reckless maneuvers, high-speed near-collisions in mid-air, and even missiles and objects such as flares. These hazardous behaviors can potentially escalate tensions between the participating nations.

Despite these incidents, the US remains committed to maintaining its presence in the region. "The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate safely and responsibly, wherever international law allows", the Pentagon underscores. During the incident on October 25, the J-11 fighter dangerously approached the significantly larger B-52. A collision could have resulted in catastrophic consequences.

The J-11, a Russian Su-27-inspired twin-engine jet fighter capable of reaching speeds of approximately 1554 mph, is equipped with a 30mm GSz-30-1 automatic cannon, unguided rockets, cluster bombs, PL-15 missiles, and Vympel R-77. The aircraft can cover a range of up to 2175 miles.

On the other hand, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, an American long-range strategic bomber, spans over 157 feet in length with a wingspan exceeding 183 feet. In launch configuration, the aircraft weighs 282,192 lbs, with over 68,343 lbs designated for armament. Capable of exceeding speeds of 621 mph, the bomber can be armed with both conventional weaponry (including various types of bombs, mines, and rockets) and nuclear weapons (e.g. thermonuclear bombs B28 or B53).

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