Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft departs for Operation ARGOS
Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft departs for Operation ARGOS

Chinese PLAAF J-16 Fighter Interception of Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon

The Australian Department of Defence has released a press statement on June 5 saying that a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Shenyang J-16 fighter carried out a dangerous maneuver to a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft in South China Sea region on 26 May 2022. The Australian Department of Defencehas for decades undertaken maritime surveillance activities in the region and does so in accordance with international law, exercising the right to freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace.

Media reports in Australia provided more details on the incident. The intercept during a routine maritime surveillance activity in international airspace which posed a safety threat to the P-8 aircraft and its crew. The fighter first approach the side of the P-8 and release flares. It then cut across the nose of the P-8 and release chaff. Some chaff were sucked into the engines of the P-8. The Australian Government has raised its concerns about the incident with the Chinese Government.

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People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Shenyang J-16 fighter jets
People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Shenyang J-16 fighter jets

The Shenyang J-16 is a Chinese tandem-seat, twinjet, multirole strike fighter developed from the Shenyang J-11 (itself derived from the Sukhoi Su-27) and built by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation. It is operated by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). The J-16 is equipped with an AESA radar and is powered by two Chinese Shenyang WS-10A turbofan engines. Weight is reduced through greater use of composite materials. J-16 units have received radar-absorbent paint to reduce its radar signature, and enhance its Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) capability in conjunction with electronic support measure pods.

The P-8A Poseidon is a modern, potent and highly reliable aircraft based on the commercially-proven Boeing B737-800; modified to incorporate the latest maritime surveillance and attack capabilities. On 21 February 2014, the Australian Government approved the purchase of eight P-8A Poseidon aircraft. The acquisition of an additional four aircraft was approved in March 2016. Delivery of these aircraft was completed in November 2019 and in December 2020, the acquisition of a further two aircraft was approved, bringing the total force to 14 aircraft. Operated by Royal Australian Air Force No. 11 and No. 292 Squadrons based at RAAF Base Edinburgh.

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