UK & World News
Chinese Top Gun 'Barrel Rolled' Over US Plane
The US has lodged a formal protest with Beijing after a Chinese fighter jet conducted a barrel roll "very, very close" over an American Navy plane this week, the Pentagon has said.
Rear Admiral John Kirby said the Chinese plane exposed its undercarriage to show that it was armed to the P-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft during Monday's incident in international airspace near Japan.
He said the Chinese aircraft came within 30ft (9 metres) of the American plane, while the wing tips of the two aircraft were just 20ft apart.
Adm Kirby described the close encounter as "pretty aggressive, very unprofessional and unsafe".
Images of the encounter were released by the US Department of Defense. The pictures show the plane was close enough to see into the cockpit.
The US plane is said by defence officials to have been conducting routine surveillance of the Chinese coast over the East China Sea at the time of its encounter with the Su-27 interceptor jet.
Adm Kirby told a regular press conference on Friday: "We have registered our strong concerns to the Chinese about the unsafe and unprofessional intercept which posed a risk to the safety and the wellbeing of the air crew and was inconsistent with customary international law.
"Also, it undermines, and we've made it clear, that this undermines efforts to continue developing military-to-military relations with the Chinese military."
White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said later that the Chinese air intercept was "a deeply concerning provocation".
Chinese military officials have previously said American surveillance flights and monitoring of their facilities amount to a violation of sovereignty.
But the US has said such missions take place in international airspace and are therefore legitimate.
The alleged buzzing took place as Chinese air force and navy jets conducted combat simulation drills in the region.
The US plane had flown from an air base in Okinawa, Japan, that is the US Air Force's Pacific power hub.
It was the second such close encounter this year for a US surveillance plane.
In April, a Russian Su-27 flew within 100ft of an RC-135 aircraft over waters north of Japan.
Last November, China declared an air defence zone over the East China Sea that sparked a maritime dispute with Japan and South Korea.