A pair of armed Chinese fighter jets flew dangerously close to a U.S. Navy reconnaissance plane flying in the East China Sea on Sunday afternoon, with the hazardous Chinese behavior nearly causing a "collision," two U.S. officials told Fox News.
One of the Chinese J-10 jets flew under the American EP-3 jet and maneuvered suddenly, popping up 300 feet in front of the U.S. plane and causing "the [US] EP-3 to take evasive action to avoid collision,” one official said.
Both Chinese fighter jets were armed with air-to-air missiles, according to the officials.
The incident occurred roughly 90 miles south of the Chinese port city of Qingdao in the East China Sea.
The episode came just days after the U.S. Navy’s top officer, Adm. John Richardson, on Friday called his Chinese counterpart to discuss possible next steps in putting pressure on North Korea, in an effort to de-escalate tensions and roll back the rogue regime's missile and nuclear weapons programs.
It’s the first unsafe interaction between China and the U.S. Navy in the air near China since a similar incident occurred off the coast of Hong Kong in late May.
This month, the U.S. Navy sailed a guided-missile destroyer near a contested island in the South China Sea that is claimed by China. It was the second time since President Trump took office the U.S. Navy conducted what it calls a “freedom of navigation” operation.