Chinese fighter jet intercepts Australian Air Force surveillance plane

Chinese fighter jet intercepts Australian Air Force surveillance plane

A Royal Australian Air Force surveillance plane was intercepted by a Chinese fighter aircraft in the South China Sea in May, Australia's defence department said on Sunday.

The RAAF P-8 naval surveillance aircraft has been intercepted by a Chinese J- 16 fighter during routine maritime surveillance activity in international airspace in the region on May 26, defence said in a statement.

The intercept resulted in a dangerous manoeuvre that posed a safety threat to the P-8 aircraft and its crew, it said.

Defence said the Australian government had raised concerns about the incident with the Chinese government.

China's embassy in Australia did not respond to a request for comment.

Defence Minister Richard Marles said that the Chinese jet flew very close in front of the RAAF aircraft and released a bundle of chaff containing small pieces of aluminium that were ingested into the Australian aircraft's engine.

Marles told ABC television that this is very dangerous.

Australia has previously joined the United States in stating that China's claims around contested islands in the South China Sea do not comply with international law.

Defence said for decades it had undertaken maritime surveillance in the region, in accordance with international law, exercising the right to freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace relations between Australia and China, a major trading partner, has recently been strained over growing Chinese influence in the Pacific, after China sought a regional security deal with Pacific Island nations.

A Chinese intelligence ship was tracked off Australia's west coast within 50 nautical miles of a sensitive defence facility, which is used by Australian, U.S. and allied submarines.

In February, China and Australia traded barbs over a incident in which Australia said one of its maritime patrol aircraft detected a laser directed at it from a People's Liberation Army Navy vessel.