The RAAF’s P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft was intercepted by a Chinese J-16 fighter during “routine maritime surveillance activity” in international airspace in the region on May 26, the agency said. defense in a press release.
“The interception resulted in a dangerous maneuver that posed a threat to the safety of the P-8 aircraft and its crew,” he said.
The Defense said the Australian government had raised concerns about the incident with the Chinese government.
The Chinese Embassy in Australia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Defense Minister Richard Marles said the Chinese plane flew very close to the RAAF plane and dropped a ‘chaff packet’ containing small pieces of aluminum which were ingested into the engine of the Australian aircraft.
“Obviously it’s very dangerous,” Marles told ABC television.
Australia has already joined the United States in saying China’s claims around the disputed South China Sea islands do not comply with international law.
The Defense said for decades it had undertaken maritime surveillance 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”.
Relations between Australia and China, major trading partners, have recently been strained due to China’s growing influence in the Pacific after China sought a regional security agreement with Pacific island nations.
Also in May, a Chinese intelligence vessel was tracked off Australia’s west coast within 50 nautical miles of a sensitive defense installation, which is used by Australian, US and allied submarines.
In February, China and Australia exchanged barbs over an incident in which Australia said one of its maritime patrol aircraft detected a laser aimed at it from an Army Navy ship popular liberation.