Chinese jets seen shadowing PH aircraft during AFP drill with Australia
MANILA, Philippines — Chinese jets shadowed an aircraft used during the joint patrol of Australia and the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea on Sunday, according to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Romeo Brawner Jr.
Brawner said two People’s Liberation Army (PLA) jet fighters were found circling a Philippine Air Force’s Super Tucano attack aircraft around the vicinity of Hubo Reef in Kalayaan Island Group.
“May dalawang Chinese jet fighters na umikot dun sa plane natin,” Brawner told reporters in a phone interview.
(There were two Chinese jet fighters circling our plane.)
“Umikot yung mga eroplano, jet fighters inikutan yung Super Tucano natin. Pero yung Super Tucano dirediretso lang … kung ano yung flight path nya, kung ano yung plano nya, tuloy-tuloy lang,” he also said.
(The jet fighters circled our Super Tucano, but our Super Tucano went on its way. It went on its plan and flight path.)
The top military official noted that no untoward incident occurred so far.
The joint drills of Manila and Canberra will last until November 27.
This week, the Philippines and United States also conducted a three-day joint patrol in the WPS, with a PLA aircraft and warship also shadowing their activities.
Brawner previously said that this move was made by China to support its narrative of owning almost the entire South China Sea (SCS).
Despite an international tribunal ruling effectively dismissing its claims, China continues to assert sovereignty to almost the entire SCS with its claims overlapping with the 200-nautical miles exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of the Philippines and other countries in South East Asia.
Parts of the SCS inside the Philippines’ EEZ are locally referred to as the WPS.
Coastal nations have sovereign rights on their own EEZ, but other states could still invoke their right of freedom of navigation and overflight.