PENTAGON: ARMED CHINESE AIRCRAFT DOES BARREL ROLL OVER U.S. AIRCRAFT!

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The Pentagon said Friday that a Chinese fighter jet made “several passes” by a U.S. Navy aircraft earlier this week off the coast of China in international airspace, baring its weapons and coming within mere feet of the U.S. plane.

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Washington has lodged a protest to China through diplomatic channels, calling the maneuver “very close” and “very dangerous.”

“Not only is it unprofessional, it’s unsafe,” Kirby said.

Kirby said the Chinese jet made several close passes by the Navy P-8 Poseidon plane, coming within 30 feet of it. He said the Chinese jet did a “barrel roll” maneuver over the top of the Poseidon and also passed across the nose of the Navy plane, exposing the belly of the fighter in a way apparently designed to show that it was armed.

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Kirby said it happened about 135 miles east of Hainan Island.

“We have registered our strong concerns to the Chinese about the unsafe and unprofessional intercept which posed a risk to the safety and the wellbeing of the air crew and was inconsistent with customary international law,” he said. “Also … this undermines efforts to continue developing military-to-military relations with the Chinese military.”

The Washington Free Beacon first reported on the incident, saying the P-8 was conducting routine surveillance when the Chinese Su-27 interceptor carried out a barrel roll over the U.S. plane.

As reported by the Free Beacon, this is the second such encounter this year with a U.S. surveillance aircraft – following an incident in April involving a Russian Su-27 flying close to a U.S. Air Force aircraft north of Japan.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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