A Chinese fighter on Aug. 19 conducted a “dangerous intercept” of a US Navy P-8 surveillance aircraft flying a “routine mission” some 135 miles east of Hainan Island in international airspace over the South China Sea, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby announced Aug. 22. Kirby said the People’s Liberation Army Air Force J-11 (a variant of the Su-27) acted “aggressive[ly]” and “very unprofessional[ly].” The jet made three dangerous passes to the aircraft, including one that was very close underneath, one within 30 feet of the US aircraft’s wingtips, and one pass right off the nose with its belly facing the cockpit, with the clear intention of displaying its air-to-air missiles, said Kirby. The US has registered its concerns with the Chinese through official diplomatic channels as of Friday, he added, noting the act undermines efforts to build military-to-military relations with the PLA. Earlier this year, a Russian Su-27 conducted a dangerous intercept of a USAF RC-135 flying in airspace near Japan. (Kirby transcript.)
Rumored cuts to the F-35 from the fiscal 2025 defense budget—six from Air Force plans—would not be offset by recent Foreign Military Sales, and will disrupt ongoing Lot 19 negotiations, Pentagon and industry sources said.