- Obama to sign bill cutting taxpayer money for party conventions
- Half of Americans worried about second Cold War: poll
- Kermit Gosnell clinic aide who heard aborted baby scream gets 5 to 10 years in prison
- Iraq mulls law to let men marry 8-year-old girls
- Russia sends bombers on 24-hour Arctic patrol
- Sam Adams beer brewer nixes St. Patrick’s parade that won’t allow gays
- Houston dad kills boy, 17, in daughter’s room in mistaken ID tragedy
- Rep. David Jolly ready to work with Democrats on compromise
- Joe Biden: I can’t be president — my golf would suffer
- German authorities grab suspected hardline Islamist
Chinese jets chase U.S. surveillance jet over Taiwan Strait
Two Chinese warplanes intercepted an American spy plane over the tense Taiwan Strait last month in China’s most aggressive challenge to U.S. surveillance flights since a 2001 collision that touched off an international crisis.
According to defense officials, the intercept took place June 29. The two Chinese jets flew from a base in China to head off an Air Force U-2 spy plane over the dividing line in the 100-mile wide Taiwan Strait.
“In general, these reconnaissance flights are conducted in international airspace, as are the PRC [Chinese] intercepts, which happen fairly routinely,” said a Pentagon official familiar with the incident.
“There is no ‘repel’ aspect to them,” he said of reports from Asia that the Chinese jets had “repelled” the U-2 flight during the intercept.
A Pacific Command spokesman declined to provide details of the incident other than to say it occurred June 29 as the Air Force was conducting a routine operation in international airspace in the area of the East China Sea.
The Chinese Su-27 jets tried to follow the U-2 as it flew south along the western dividing line on the Taiwan Strait.
According to the officials, at one point the Su-27s split up in pursuing the U-2. One jet turned back before crossing the median line, and the second continued across the line until two Taiwanese F-16s took off to intercept it.
It is not known how the Su-27s were able to follow the U-2, which normally flies at much higher altitudes than the warplanes.
The officials said the U-2 aborted its flight and returned to its base upon being alerted to the Su-27 interceptors.
It was the first time Chinese warplanes crossed the line since 1999 and the closest encounter between a U.S. surveillance aircraft and Chinese interceptors since a Chinese J-8 jet collided with a U.S. EP-3 surveillance jet in April 2001, setting off an international crisis.
In the 2001 case, China held a U.S. air crew captive for 11 days after the damaged EP-3 made an emergency landing on China’s Hainan island after the collusion. The Chinese pilot died after crashing in the sea. The Navy blamed the Chinese pilot for flying too close to the EP-3.
Disclosure of the June 29 aerial encounter comes amid growing tensions over Chinese aggressiveness in the South China Sea. In recent weeks China has clashed with Vietnam and the Philippines over sovereignty claims in the sea, which is believed to hold large energy resources and is a strategic transit point.
U.S. officials have said China, after a year of relative calm, began asserting questionable territorial rights in waters around its shores. Beijing has claimed most of the South China Sea as a “core interest” and has refused to hold international talks to resolve disputes.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
- Inside the Ring: Cybercom's Michael Rogers confirms Russia conducted cyberattacks against Ukraine
- Inside the Ring: Pentagon reevaluating Obama's pivot to Asia
- Inside the Ring: All eyes on Moscow's military moves in Ukraine
- Inside the Ring: China readies for 'short, sharp' war with Japan
- Inside the Ring: U.S., China in war of words over South China Sea air zone
TWT Video Picks
By Bob Dole
The industrious island has proved itself worthy of U.S. inclusion
- EXCLUSIVE: FBI blocked in corruption probe involving Sens. Reid, Lee
- College group's diversity event canceled after excluding white people
- Sam Adams beer brewer nixes St. Patrick's parade that won't allow gays
- Deportations come mostly from border, DHS chief says
- F-35 secrets now showing up in Chinas stealth fighter
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- MILLER: Law enforcement realizes good people with guns deter crime
- U.S.: Malaysia plane's on-board communications purposely shut down
- BRUCE: The power of bossy
Chaos as Manhattan building explodes
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014