I would have loved to be a fly on the wall, when the crew of SAF RC-135U got their mission briefing.
“We’re going where? The China coastline?”
While the PLAAF continues to launch aggressive flights into Taiwan’s ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone), it appears that two can play at that game.
In a clear indication of what the Biden administration plans for Beijing, the move to exert “maximum pressure” reared its head on Monday.
According to South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI), a think tank based in Beijing, a USAF reconnaissance aircraft made the closest-ever flight on China’s coast on Monday, coming within 25.33 nautical miles, Zero Hedge reported.
SCSPI said the USAF Boeing RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft flew closer to China’s coast than ever before — ultimately daring PLAAF defense forces to respond.
A scenario that could be catastrophic, military experts say. If an RC-135 were to be shot down, there is no telling what the US might do.
The high-tech intelligence-gathering plane entered the South China Sea on Monday through the Bashi Channel to conduct reconnaissance operations on China’s southern coastal regions, the think tank said.
At one point, the spy plane was flying 25.33 nautical miles away from China’s coastlines, a new record, according to the think tank.
A USAF spy plane’s usual distance is around 50 to 70 nautical miles, but the 25.33 nautical miles were unexpected, Zero Hedge reported.
The event comes days after the first meeting between the Biden administration and Chinese officials ended with open hostility as it appears President Biden shows no sign of changing former President Trump’s policy of poking the Red Dragon.
“USAF RC-135U Combat Sent #AE01D5 just set a new record of 25.33NM, the shortest distance US reconnaissance aircraft have reached from the China’s coastlines, based on public data so far.”Source: SCSPI
The USAF’s RC-135 has found its way into Chinese media reports already several times this year.
Earlier this month, state broadcaster CCTV had also tracked its reconnaissance missions into the Yellow Sea and East China Sea from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan.
Last week, SCSPI released its annual report on the US military operating in the South China Sea in 2020, Zero Hedge reported.
It said USAF spy planes flew nearly 1,000 sorties in the highly contested waters last year.
US bombers and warships have been increasing missions around China’s militarized islands in South China under the Biden administration.
Since 2009, the US military has “significantly enhanced the frequency of activities in the region by boosting the presence of surface vessels by more than 60 percent, reaching about 1,000 ship-days a year,” SCSPI told Newsweek last October.
“In the air, it sends on average three to five warplanes to the South China Sea per day, most of them being reconnaissance aircraft, making a total of more than 1,500 sorties a year, almost twice as many as in 2009,” it continued.
The heavy US presence in the seas around China come as the Chinese military steps up its own warfighting capabilities and conducts probing flights near Japan and Taiwan on a near daily basis, Newsweek reported.
Key US allies have also taken part in freedom of navigation missions in the South China Sea.
An Australian naval vessel was present last year, and German and British warships are expected to transit the waters in 2021.