Home News Chinese aircraft fired at helicopters hunting Canadian submarines in the East Sea

Chinese aircraft fired at helicopters hunting Canadian submarines in the East Sea

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A recent incident involving a Chinese warplane and a Canadian military helicopter in the South China Sea has raised concerns about the safety and professionalism of Chinese military operations. Last Sunday, a Chinese warplane fired flares in front of a Canadian military helicopter flying over international waters, an action that Canadian military officers have deemed reckless and potentially dangerous.

According to Major Rob Millen, the air officer aboard the Canadian warship HMCS Ottawa, the incident occurred during the helicopter’s search for a previously detected submarine. This was the second encounter the Ottawa’s helicopter had with Chinese J-11 fighter jets on October 29. The first incident saw the fighters approach as close as 100 feet from the helicopter, a move that is considered highly unusual and provocative.

While instances of Chinese aircraft getting close to fixed-wing planes have been observed in the past, it is rare to witness similar actions targeting helicopters. Major Millen expressed his concerns about the risks involved, particularly with the flares potentially interfering with the helicopter’s rotor blades or engines.

The encounters took place over international waters, with the warship situated 100 miles east of the Paracel Island chain in the northern part of the South China Sea. The Canadian helicopter was flying straight and level at 3,000 feet when it was intercepted by Chinese J-11 fighters. The Chinese jets circled the helicopter, causing turbulence and discomfort for the pilots.

Major Millen responded by descending to 200 feet, an altitude that is uncomfortable for fast air fighter jets. Despite these encounters, the Canadian military maintains that their air crews will continue to fly over the international waters of the South China Sea and that they are prepared to respond to such intercepts.

When asked about the incident, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin claimed to be unaware of the situation. However, China has previously expressed its firm stance against reconnaissance flights by Canadian warplanes near its territorial airspace.

China’s claims of historic jurisdiction over the South China Sea have been highly contentious. Since 2014, China has constructed artificial islands, complete with missile installations, runways, and weapons systems, in the disputed region, which has caused alarm among neighboring countries. The Paracel Islands, known as the Xisha Islands under China’s naming, are situated in the northern part of the South China Sea.

The South China Sea is a crucial waterway for international trade, with one-third of global shipping, worth trillions of dollars, passing through annually. It is also home to abundant fishing grounds that support the livelihoods of many. In 2016, a tribunal in The Hague ruled that China’s claims to historic rights in the South China Sea had no legal basis. However, China has chosen to disregard this ruling, further complicating the situation in the region.

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