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Anthony Albanese speaks on Chinese fighter jet that flew dangerously close to RAAF aircraft

A Chinese fighter jet that intercepted an RAAF maritime surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea flew dangerously close, releasing flares and aluminium “chaff”.

Defence Minister Richard Marles said some of the bundle of chaff, which contains small pieces of aluminium, were ingested into the engine of the Australian P-8 aircraft.

Mr Marles said the Federal Government had expressed concern with its counterparts in Beijing over the “very dangerous” May 26 incident but declined to reveal how the Chinese Government had responded.

“What occurred was that the J-16 (Chinese) aircraft flew very close to the side of the P-8 (Australian) maritime surveillance aircraft,” he said.

“In flying close to the side, it released flares.

This is very dangerous.

“The J-16 then accelerated and cut across the nose of the P-8, settling in front of the P-8 at very close distance.

“At that moment, it then released a bundle of chaff, which contains small pieces of aluminium, some of which were ingested into the engine of the P-8 aircraft.

“Quite obviously, this is very dangerous.”

Earlier, the Department of Defence revealed a RAAF P-8 aircraft was intercepted by a Chinese J-16 fighter jet over the disputed region during “routine maritime surveillance” in international airspace.

The department said surveillance activities were conducted in accordance with international law and the intercept resulted in “a dangerous manoeuvre which posed a safety threat” to the Australian crew.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese carefully chose his words when he confirmed the incident at a press conference, declining to clarify whether the Australian aircraft was forced to take evasive action.

“We are concerned about this incident. We have expressed those concerns through appropriate channels,” Mr Albanese said.

“I won’t make any further comment on it, other than to say that in the Australian Government’s view and the Defense Department’s view, this was not safe, what occurred, and we’ve made appropriate representations to the Chinese Government expressing our concern.”

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