▲Fighter jets attached to the PLA Naval Aviation University taxi out of the aircraft hangars during a flight training course in late September, 2020. (eng.chinamil.com.cn/Photo by Ni Shuai and Jiang Tao)
A video shows an Air Force jet of the People’s Liberation Army driving away a foreign plane from its operating space, with the distance between them as close as dozens of meters. Experts said it shows that the PLA is able to deal with such situations, and that there is no space for negotiations on China’s sovereignty.
“This is the China Air Force. Attention! You are flying in our operating space, which may jeopardize flight safety. Identify yourself immediately,” Luo Wei, a pilot of the Air Force said to a foreign fighter plane.
The Air Force jet driving away a foreign plane was revealed on Monday night by China Central Television (CCTV). During an interview, Luo told CCTV that a foreign fighter would normally leave when a Chinese fighter takes off and enter into the warning area. But the situation was different that day as the foreign fighter was flying toward China’s territorial waters demarcation line.
“[We] were so close to seeing the badge and number of the foreign fighter… it was also narrowing the distance and altitude between us to disturb our monitoring. I immediately made an S-turn to follow it. When it found that it was impossible to shake me off, it flew away,” Luo said.
The report did not reveal which country the foreign fighter was from.
An insider told the Global Times on Tuesday that there is no space for negotiations on the issue of sovereignty, and the move shows that the PLA dares “take out the sword.”
A banking turn is a tactical maneuver usually used in tailing during close combat. The insider said that the action is aimed at occupying a favorable position to tail, supervise and warn an unclear target in the air to prepare for combat anytime.
“Two planes have to be at most 100 meters apart if one of them can clearly see the other’s badge and number,” the insider said.
Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times that sometimes it is only a dozen meters between two planes for a pilot to see another aircraft’s badge and number, which is common in formation flight. It requires very high skills of the pilot to do this when tailing a foreign military aircraft.
Wang Ya’nan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times that such close tailing and supervision is risky, and relies on the pilot’s strong skills and will.
“Such close flight requires both sides to take professional measures and actions to avoid a clash, while achieving the aim,” Wang said.