Statement on unsafe and unprofessional interaction with PLA-Air Force

6 May 2024

The Australian Government has expressed its concerns to the Chinese Government following an unsafe and unprofessional interaction with a People’s Liberation Army – Air Force (PLA-AF) fighter aircraft.

On 4 May 2024, HMAS Hobart was in international waters in the Yellow Sea undertaking routine activities as part of Operation Argos, Australia’s contribution to the international effort to enforce United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korea.

During these activities, a Royal Australian Navy MH-60R helicopter launched from HMAS Hobart was intercepted by a PLA-AF fighter aircraft. 

The PLA-AF aircraft released flares across the flight path of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) helicopter. This was an unsafe manoeuvre which posed a risk to the aircraft and personnel. 

While there were no injuries sustained by ADF personnel or damage caused to the MH-60R helicopter, the safety and wellbeing of our ADF personnel continues to be our utmost priority. 

Australia expects all countries, including China, to operate their militaries in a professional and safe manner.

Defence has, 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. 

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