U.S. Officials: A group of ‘rogue’ pilots responsible for China’s aggression?

posted at 8:41 am on August 25, 2014 by Noah Rothman

On Friday, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby shocked the press when he revealed that an American Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft was intercepted by a Chinese fighter in what he described as a “very dangerous, very unprofessional” situation.

“On three different occasions, the Chinese J-11 crossed directly under the US aircraft with one pass having only 50-100 feet separation between the two aircraft,” Kirby revealed.

“The Chinese jet also passed the nose of the P-8 at 90 degrees with its belly toward the P-8 to show its weapons load out. In doing so, the [Chinese] pilot was unable to see the P-8, further increasing the potential for a collision,” the Pentagon said. “The Chinese pilot then flew directly under and alongside the P-8 bringing their wingtips within 20 feet and then, before he stabilized his fighter he conducted a roll over the P-8 passing within 45 feet.”

Over the weekend, in response to what American officials called a “provocation,” the United States dispatched a second aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson, to the Pacific region. The Washington Free Beacon’s Bill Gertz has more:

The Carl Vinson strike group will patrol “both 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility,” the Navy statement said The 7th fleet covers the Pacific and the 5th Fleet is responsible for operations in the Middle East.

The guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and three guided missile destroyers, the USS Gridley, USS Sterett, and USS Dewey also deployed with the Vinson.

The Vinson will join the Japan-based USS George Washington strike group.

Officials in Beijing have criticized America’s strong condemnation of the actions of Chinese pilots. During the encounter between a P-8 and a Chinese J-11 fighter 135 miles off the coast of Hainan Island, China insists that its pilots performed standard identification procedures before approaching the American aircraft. A Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman called America’s accusations “totally groundless.”

The Pentagon stuck by its condemnation of the encounter, but unnamed officials told The Wall Street Journal over the weekend that the dangerous encounters with Chinese pilots could be the actions of “rogue” elements.

U.S. officials aren’t sure why the incidents keep taking place in the same general location, and said the midair encounters may be attributable to a rogue pilot or group of pilots in a squadron responsible for intercepts in the South China Sea.

These officials said they don’t believe the aggressive flying was directly authorized by the Chinese military.

“The Chinese are trying to be more active in establishing good quality military-to-military relations. There’s just something different and unique about what’s going on in the South China Sea,” a senior U.S. official said. “Something’s out of whack.”

That’s comforting. Rogue pilots or no, a catastrophic midair collision between American and Chinese aircraft would spark a potentially disastrous international incident. This episode is certain to heighten tensions between the two powers. Moreover, the implication from unnamed American officials that Beijing cannot control its own pilots is sure to produce even more goodwill towards the United States.


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I have always had it. Maybe, after I spend more time schooling you, you will get it.

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 3:24 PM

You could really school me with one of those ICAO regulations.

I’d be forced to admit I was wrong if you could come up with one.

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 3:31 PM

I’m just looking for an ICAO regulation that applies to military flights.

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 3:06 PM

Stupid people like you probably think that US military vehicles can drive on US roads however they want – instead of being obligated to follow rules of the road – while driving on the road. Military aircraft of countries that are party to ICAO, that aren’t waging war, are obligated to adhere to ICAO rules.

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 3:34 PM

Military aircraft of countries that are party to ICAO, that aren’t waging war, are obligated to adhere to ICAO rules.

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 3:34 PM

Still waiting for you to cite a source for that.

In the meantime, since we’ll apparently be waiting a long time, some music …

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 3:37 PM

Still waiting to see what the text of an ICAO regulation looks like.

Starting to think there may not be any such thing.

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 3:14 PM

You’re a joke for writing this. It’s been spelled out for you. You just want to ignore it. You will never admit that you were wrong. You’ll cling to any excuse to ignore your errors.

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 3:39 PM

Apparently DarkCurrent must think there are no rules for ariel conduct of military aircraft?

A peculiar belief if one HAD to have a peculiar belief.

Missilengr on August 25, 2014 at 3:43 PM

There is a reason it’s called the South China Sea.

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 11:27 AM

For anyone interested in what China claims is their national waters, not just some exclusive economic zone, etc. See here.

It would be like if the U.S. claimed the entire Caribbean as U.S. national waters. China’s claims are ridiculous…

William Eaton on August 25, 2014 at 3:43 PM

You have gone native. China is not our friend.

V7_Sport on August 25, 2014 at 3:18 PM

She’s friendly enough to me.

But she is still a bit wary and untrusting of Western countries, I suppose because of that stuff that happened before.

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 3:23 PM

I used to work with people who listened to Chinas military for a living. They genuinely, viscerally hate our guts and you needn’t look further than Vietnam or Korea for proof. They are engaging in asymmetrical warfare against this country and using a timeline that our average American attention span simply can’t understand. Regardless, past actions by “western countries” (seem to recall an CBI patch on my Dads jacket funny enough) aren’t an excuse to annex international waterways or disputed islands and flying dangerously close to aircraft in interceptors that are wildly unstable at slow speed is just a part of that asymmetrical campaign.
Glad you are having a good time though.

V7_Sport on August 25, 2014 at 3:44 PM

You’re a joke for writing this. It’s been spelled out for you. You just want to ignore it. You will never admit that you were wrong. You’ll cling to any excuse to ignore your errors.

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 3:39 PM

I’m just waiting for a link to an ICAO regulation. You must have one?

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 3:49 PM

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 3:39 PM

Dude, why do you think I stopped responding to him?

GWB on August 25, 2014 at 3:56 PM

I used to work with people who listened to Chinas military for a living. They genuinely, viscerally hate our guts and you needn’t look further than Vietnam or Korea for proof.

V7_Sport on August 25, 2014 at 3:44 PM

It’s been a while since the Vietnam and Korean wars Sport, and that’s third hand via translation.

They don’t today.

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 3:58 PM

For anyone interested in what China claims is their national waters, not just some exclusive economic zone, etc. See here.

It would be like if the U.S. claimed the entire Caribbean as U.S. national waters. China’s claims are ridiculous…

William Eaton on August 25, 2014 at 3:43 PM

By China here you obviously mean both the PRC and ROC since they both maintain the same claims in the South China Sea on behalf of China, isn’t that right Bill?

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Still waiting for you to cite a source for that.

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 3:37 PM

Do you also need someone to prove to you that Army HUMVEEs are obligated to follow state and local statues when driving on state and local roads?

And do you think that India has the right to control the entire Indian Ocean?

You’ve made yourself into a laughing stock on this thread.

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 4:01 PM

Dude, why do you think I stopped responding to him?

GWB on August 25, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Because you couldn’t come up with a fact.

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 4:02 PM

Apparently DarkCurrent must think there are no rules for ariel conduct of military aircraft?

A peculiar belief if one HAD to have a peculiar belief.

Missilengr on August 25, 2014 at 3:43 PM

LOL! Yes, he’s clinging to this claim in order to try to save face.

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 4:02 PM

I’m just waiting for a link to an ICAO regulation. You must have one?

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 3:49 PM

Are you trying to pretend that the previous page of comments doesn’t exist?

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Dude, why do you think I stopped responding to him?

GWB on August 25, 2014 at 3:56 PM

The more he responds, the more he embarrasses himself. I’m ok with that. I love the fact that he asserted his pilots license as if that gave him any credibility about this issue. DC, have you ever flown VFR in international airspace?

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 4:07 PM

For anyone interested in what China claims is their national waters, not just some exclusive economic zone, etc. See here.

It would be like if the U.S. claimed the entire Caribbean as U.S. national waters. China’s claims are ridiculous…

William Eaton on August 25, 2014 at 3:43 PM

Yep. Their claims are totally outrageous, which one is tempted to just laugh off, yet they seem completely serious about.

slickwillie2001 on August 25, 2014 at 4:13 PM

U.S. Officials: A group of ‘rogue’ pilots responsible for China’s aggression?

Yeah, sure. And the “Crazy Ivan” maneuver originated from “rogue” Soviet sub captains.

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 25, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Are you trying to pretend that the previous page of comments doesn’t exist?

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Are you trying to pretend you linked to an ICAO regulation?

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 4:49 PM

DC, have you ever flown VFR in international airspace?

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Sure. Have you?

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Yep. Their claims are totally outrageous, which one is tempted to just laugh off, yet they seem completely serious about.

slickwillie2001 on August 25, 2014 at 4:13 PM

How so?

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 5:07 PM

Are you trying to pretend you linked to an ICAO regulation?

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 4:49 PM

LOL! Regulation? Is that what you are retreating to now? I linked to a Rules of the Air document that ICAO has obligated its members to. It clearly applies to military aircraft as well.

You’ve been reduced to nothing.

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 5:16 PM

Sure.

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Your complete lack of understanding suggests otherwise.

Have you?

Extensively. That’s how I know all about this, and why I’m not letting you off the hook despite the fact that you are desperate to save face somehow.

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 5:18 PM

How so?

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 5:07 PM

So, you’re also unfamiliar about international law. Have you ever heard of the Gulf of Sidra?

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 5:23 PM

Regulation? Is that what you are retreating to now? I linked to a Rules of the Air document that ICAO has obligated its members to. It clearly applies to military aircraft as well.

You’ve been reduced to nothing.

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 5:16 PM

ICAO provides guidelines for civilian air operations, nothing more.

It certainly doesn’t regulate military air operations.

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 5:29 PM

It certainly doesn’t regulate military air operations.

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 5:29 PM

Nobody except you has ever used the term regulate. ICAO most certainly imposes rules on its members and such rules include the operation of military aircraft. This is similarly true for IMO. This is true regardless of how much you wish it wasn’t. ICAO’s rules also references “unlawful” actions – which implies the actions of military aircraft. Gee, why would they use the term unlawful?

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Here’s what GWB wrote that sent you into a tissy.

Flying that close to another aircraft without authorization is a violation of ICAO. It’s also aggressive enough to be considered an act of war, if we had an administration that thought in such fashion.

GWB on August 25, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Notice he merely said that it was a violation of ICAO. Even IF ICAO merely provided suggestions, then actions can certainly violate ICAO. Additionally, you haven’t countered GWB’s assertion that it’s aggressive enough to be considered an act of war. You’re doing a bad job being China’s apologist on here.

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 5:41 PM

Nobody except you has ever used the term regulate. ICAO most certainly imposes rules on its members and such rules include the operation of military aircraft. This is similarly true for IMO. This is true regardless of how much you wish it wasn’t. ICAO’s rules also references “unlawful” actions – which implies the actions of military aircraft. Gee, why would they use the term unlawful?

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 5:34 PM

I guess I did miss the distinction between imposing rules and regulating, also how ICAO does either with regard to military aviation.

How does that work again corkie?

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 5:46 PM

Even IF ICAO merely provided suggestions, then actions can certainly violate ICAO. Additionally, you haven’t countered GWB’s assertion that it’s aggressive enough to be considered an act of war. You’re doing a bad job being China’s apologist on here.

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 5:41 PM

Backtrack begins

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 5:50 PM

Flying around a P-8 like that is great for the P-8. Passing in front of the plane the P-8 pops a sidewinder and the J-11 in in the ocean faster than the pilot can say “China”. Even better if it comes from a n F-18 flying top cover.

The Brits armed their Nimrods with sidewinders during the Falklands.
Never had an opportunity to use them though.

Bubba Redneck on August 25, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Seems like something the US should do then. Shoot off a sidewinder at a J-11. That’ll be impressive.

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Beats flying into a prop driven P-3 with a fighter jet.
Sidewinders are cheaper.

There will be another accident if the Chinese keep this up and they are gonna look like idiots, more so than they do now.

Bubba Redneck on August 25, 2014 at 5:53 PM

I guess I did miss the distinction between imposing rules and regulating

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 5:46 PM

Yes, you did. The distinction is most certainly there. I’m very sorry that you don’t understand it, but your lack of understanding doesn’t equate to nonexistence. International law isn’t as concrete as statues that fall under an umbrella of sovereign constitutions. But don’t for one second think that ICAO isn’t promulgating rules for its members.

also how ICAO does either with regard to military aviation.

I’ve already explained this. It’s obvious to US military aviators – like GWB. It’s also obvious to people that read ICAO manuals. I’m sorry that it’s too difficult for you to understand.

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 5:55 PM

Backtrack begins

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 5:50 PM

You are stupid. That wasn’t at all a backtrack. That was me saying that you’re wrong on two different levels.

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 5:56 PM

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 5:50 PM
You got stomped. Just call it the day.(Unless your pay masters in people’s intelligence are demanding overtime. Must be tough///.)

flackcatcher on August 25, 2014 at 6:07 PM

It’s been a while since the Vietnam and Korean wars Sport, and that’s third hand via translation.

They don’t today.

DarkCurrent on August 25, 2014 at 3:58 PM

OK, everything is great then, wouldn’t want to jeopardize your paycheck from an immoral country that aborts babies for being female, censors everything, drives over protestors with tanks and executes people for tax evasion and sends their families a bill for the bullet.

V7_Sport on August 25, 2014 at 6:29 PM

Yes, you did. The distinction is most certainly there.

corkie on August 25, 2014 at 5:55 PM

Really? What’s the distinction between imposing rules and regulating?

When is the US going to take this incident up with ICAO?

DarkCurrent on August 26, 2014 at 2:01 AM

Really? What’s the distinction between imposing rules and regulating?

DarkCurrent on August 26, 2014 at 2:01 AM

There are many distinctions that are obviously too subtle for your pea brain to understand. Understanding the construct of international law would be a start, but I don’t feel like educating you about everything. ICAO quite clearly establishes rules for its members. That’s why they’re called RULES of the Air. That being said, the establishment of rules is certainly a form of regulation – even if it doesn’t act as other “regulatory” bodies that most people are accustomed to.

When is the US going to take this incident up with ICAO?

It might not because it would probably be a useless endeavor – just like taking things up with the UN is often a useless endeavor. Do you have anything else in defense of China, or is this it? China was criminally aggressive with the EP-3 in 2001. The criminal aggression damaged the aircraft – which was US military property. If the crew is accurate in the description of the recent actions, then China was criminally aggressive with the P-8. The fact that there’s no formal law enforcement agency that will arrest China doesn’t mean that it wasn’t criminal, but I’m sure you’re going to try to make that argument. That would be in-line with your low quality arguments throughout this thread.

Most Hot Air commenters that are informed about ADIZ were honest and objective in the thread about the Russian bombers. You’re obviously not informed enough about this issue to be honest and objective about it. LOL at you for hating the fact that I stated that the Russian bombers did nothing wrong. It completely ruined your argument, and you were left to throw stones about ICAO not having SWAT teams or something.

I’m still laughing at you.

corkie on August 26, 2014 at 2:33 AM

There are many distinctions that are obviously too subtle for your pea brain to understand.

Then you should be able to explain at least one of them, right?

It might not because it would probably be a useless endeavor – just like taking things up with the UN is often a useless endeavor.

corkie on August 26, 2014 at 2:33 AM

It won’t because ICAO doesn’t apply.

DarkCurrent on August 26, 2014 at 2:58 AM

Then you should be able to explain at least one of them, right?

DarkCurrent on August 26, 2014 at 2:58 AM

I just did.

It won’t because ICAO doesn’t apply.

Military pilots throughout the world disagree with you. It’s amazing that you think that military aircraft can do whatever they want.

And tell me the circumstances of you piloting an aircraft under VFR rules in international waters. I’m realizing that you probably think that being a passenger in an aircraft over international waters during VMC counts. It doesn’t.

corkie on August 26, 2014 at 3:11 AM

DarkCurrent, are you claiming that the Chinese pilot did nothing wrong by putting the US crew’s lives in danger despite the fact that the P-8 was in international airspace?

Also, I’m now remembering that you added nothing to the ADIZ thread other than smart azz remarks. You really do seem to enjoy annoying people on here for no reason. I don’t think you’re paid by the Chinese government, but you do seem to suffer from some socialization problems.

corkie on August 26, 2014 at 9:50 AM

corkie on August 26, 2014 at 9:50 AM
I won’t go into this too deeply. But Mainland Chinese I/O operations have a set pattern they follow when it comes to blogs and like. DarkCurrent’s pattern over the past year and a half is a classic in low level I/O operations. But even more amazing, was how quickly the commenter’s on this blog understood what DarkCurrent was doing. Within 3 months DarkCurrent was exposed and labeled a troll. The only difference between DarkCurrent and some of OFA types is persistence, and means DarkCurrent is getting some kind of pay.(Not cash, but access)Frankly, DarkCurrent would have more creed if it simply ID itself as an agent of the Chinese government and stated those positions clearly. But, that may be asking too much of the current Chinese leadership. Well, we will see. This is the 21st century after all.

flackcatcher on August 26, 2014 at 10:39 PM

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