Chinese fighter flies inverted over US Air Force jet

The US crew aboard the US Air Force WC-135 characterized the intercepting by the Chinese aircraft as "unprofessional", according to the statement from Air Force Lt. Col. Lori Hodge.

The Air Force is discussing the event via the military maritime consultative agreement meeting and diplomatic channels, Hodge said.

U.S. Air Force photo/Josh Plueger (WASHINGTON) - A Chinese fighter jet conducted a barrel roll over a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane flying in worldwide airspace above the Yellow Sea on Wednesday, according to a U.S. official.

The U.S. military deployed the WC-135 to counter the growing nuclear threat from North Korea.

Whether the close encounter was meant to send a signal to the Americans or was merely the action of an over exuberant pilot is not clear, experts said.

Last June, two Chinese J-10 fighter planes intercepted a U.S. Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance plane over the East China Sea.

One of the SU-30s flew upside down directly above the USA plane and both of the Chinese jets came within 150 feet of it, CNN reports.

Officials tell CNN the Su-30 fighters came within 150 feet of the WC-135 in worldwide airspace. "This flight was no exception".

USA officials told CBS News national security correspondent David Martin that two SU-30s flew within 50-70 feet of the WC-135's right wing tip, then one of the SU-30s did a barrel roll over top of the American plane.

The very next day, the Chinese got up to more tricks in the East China Sea, spooking Japan by sending vessels and a drone near the disputed Senkaku Islands.

Tensions have repeatedly risen over USA activity near the resource-rich global waters off China's coast.

NBC said the crew of the United States plane described the encounter as "unprofessional", although not necessarily unsafe.

In April 2001, another intercept of a US EP-3E spy plane by a Chinese F-8 fighter in the same area resulted in a collision that killed the Chinese pilot and forced the US plane to make an emergency landing at a base on Hainan.

  • Joey Payne