A Chinese military aircraft and a United States Navy P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft came close dangerously to each other with a distance of 1,000 feet apart over skies of the South China Sea, U.S. official told Reuters on Thursday.
According to the report, the incident took place in the eastern reaches of the South China Sea, near Scarborough Shoal, 124 nautical miles off the Philippine coast.
But the U.S. Navy believes that it was “inadvertent” – meaning that it is not being – in any event at first – depicted as an “unsafe intercept” of the sort seen between a U.S. Navy Boeing RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft and a Chinese J-10 fighter over the East China Sea a year ago last June.
The official added that such interactions between Chinese and American aircraft are infrequent, with only two occurring in 2016.
The Scarborough Shoal is a disputed territory, claimed by China and the Philippines. However, the Chinese Coast Guard has maintained a presence there since seizing it from Manila in a standoff in 2012.