Chinese Su-27 Jet Threatened U.S. Surveillance Aircraft with a barrel roll stunt over the top of it

A Chinese Su-27 Flanker flew within 50 feet of a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine warfare aircraft.

It looks like not only Russian Su-27 Flanker are involved in close encounters with U.S. surveillance planes around the world.

As reported by the Washington Free Beacon, a Chinese Su-27 flew dangerously close to a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) aircraft over the East China Sea, on Aug. 19.

The P-8, a derivative of the Boeing 737, capable to carry the Mk-54 airborne torpedo and the Harpoon anti-ship missile, and to perform ASW missions as well as ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) tasks, was conducting a routine surveillance mission in international airspace when a Chinese Flanker intercepted it.

Routine stuff, until the Chinese jet flew within 50 feet of the Poseidon “and then carried out a barrel roll over the top of the aircraft” a maneuver meant to threaten the American aircraft, as commented by US officials familiar with the incident who have talked to Washington Free Beacon’s

The American jet was one of the aircraft assigned to U.S. Navy’s VP-16, a squadron based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, that has been deployed to Kadena, Okinawa, one the largest U.S. airbases in the Asia-Pacific region, located about 400 chilometers East of the disputed Senkaku islands (Diaoyu for China), since December 2013.

Navy’s Poseidons not only assisted rescue efforts in the Philippines, supporting Operation Damayan, but they are constantly monitoring Chinese movements in region where tension is still high following the establishment of a Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

As already recalled when reporting about the RC-135U intercept last June, on Apr. 1, 2001, a U.S. Navy EP-3E with the VQ-1, flying an ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) mission in international airspace 64 miles southeast of the island of Hainan was intercepted by two PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy) J-8 fighters.

One of the J-8s piloted by Lt. Cdr. Wang Wei, made two close passes to the EP-3 before colliding with the spyplane on the third pass. As a consequence, the J-8 broke into two pieces and crashed into the sea causing the death of the pilot, whereas the EP-3, severely damaged, performed an unauthorized landing at China’s Lingshui airfield.

The 24 crew members (21 men and three women), that destroyed all (or at least most of ) the sensitive items and data on board the aircraft, were detained by Chinese authorities until Apr. 11.

H/T to Isaac Alexander for the heads-up

P-8A Safe Sep Harpoon #1 T-3 BuNo 167954 TD Ray Samora.

Image credit: PLAAF, U.S. Navy


About David Cenciotti 4453 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.


  1. Once our president shows them his “Angry Eyes” I can guarantee they will never think of doing such a feat again.

  2. F-22s need to do watch from a decent distance tif the PLAAF continue to threaten our maritime patrols. This is crap. All they need to do is give a nice little RWR lock beep in one of those harrassing Flankers, tell them they can see them, then watch them run home to mommy dragon.

    • Lol all 130 of them… Amazing one on one aircraft though no one, who actually knows, believes that a 130 aircraft fleet is operationally sustainable in a high attrition combat scenario

      F22s show up and all that’ll happen is a six to one environment in the South China Sea evolving into god knows what

      Btw don’t knock a nation who can flip out stealth planes based on US plans within a couple of years while the US is still having engine issues, at that rate they’ll be selling ‘SU50’s to National Guard units

    • And there would be no difference in political and geostrategic terms whether the US decides or not to respond to these interceptions which, mind you, were meted out in answer to an American aircraft that was straggling CHINESE airspace. Both sides know the formulaic procedure of these interceptions and both know better than to escalate it into a quagmire that both governments would have no hopes of getting out of. And as such, there is no motive for either side to up the ante.

      One other complication that is being overlooked would be the critical leak of classified data, such as the Raptor’s radar-cross-section, that would be of great value to the Chinese should they move in to intercept the Chinese aircraft. It’s no doubt the preservation of these secrets are of far more importance to the US government than is a little show-of-force for their enemy.

  3. Considering the Chinese pilots’ propensity to crash into aircraft that they’re escorting, I’d be worried.

    • Yeah, recall the 1994 ‘Green Ramp’ incident that involved Chinese pilots’ propensity to crash…? Yeah. Blame that one on Bill Clinton.

      • That incident has nothing to do with anything we’re talking here. Try to stick to the subject.

  4. So, WinstonCDN, InklingBooks, and Mr. Potato Head, remind us of the strong response President Bush gave the last time this happened…

        • Making blanket statements about an entire continent with multiple languages, ethnic makeups, and cultural backgrounds…”tipical” of idiots.

          • That’s the point, you don’t have a background like the rest of the world, yet you act like you have the right to stick your nose everywhere.

            • What are you even talking about? Background like the rest of the world? What an absolutely retarded phrase. What does American foreign policy have to do with the fact that you’re too ignorant to understand that N. America is probably the most culturally diverse place on the planet. You’re an absolute moron….

            • Bad ole America! I mean what have they ever really done for us?!?! For some reason this reminds me of a Monty Python scene in the “Life of Bryan”.

      • Bush had siht… He faced endless criticism for being the tough guy who bowed, and wrote a letter to China saying sorry! How’s that balls??

  5. I see once more the childish comments are taking up most of this space, what a bunch of sore losers grow up.

Comments are closed.