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RCAF has Close Call with PLAAF During Op NEON


The Canadian Armed Forces can confirm that, on several occasions during this most recent iteration of Operation NEON, interactions occurred between our Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft and aircraft of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).

In these interactions, PLAAF aircraft did not adhere to international air safety norms. These interactions are unprofessional and/or put the safety of our RCAF personnel at risk. In some instances, the RCAF aircrew felt sufficiently at risk that they had to quickly modify their own flight path in order to increase separation and avoid a potential collision with the intercepting aircraft.

These interactions are well-documented by our aircrew for professional internal analysis.

The aircrews in several PLAAF aircraft are very clearly visible as they approach and attempt to divert our patrol aircraft from their flight path.

The Canadian Armed Forces’ primary concern is the safety of our aircrew, and the importance of PLAAF aircraft maintaining a professional distance from CAF aircraft flying in a UN-sanctioned mission occurring in international airspace.

Such interactions, which occur in international airspace during UN-sanctioned missions, are of concern and of increasing frequency. These occurrences have also been addressed through diplomatic channels.



Op NEON is Canada’s contribution to a coordinated multinational effort to support the implementation of UN Security Council sanctions imposed against North Korea. These sanctions, imposed between 2006 and 2017, aim to pressure North Korea to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programs and respond to North Korean nuclear weapon tests and ballistic missile launches.

Op NEON sees military ships, aircraft and personnel deployed to conduct surveillance operations to identify suspected maritime sanctions evasion activities, in particular ship-to-ship transfers of fuel and other commodities banned by the United Nations Security Council Resolutions. This contribution bolsters the integrity of the global sanctions regime against North Korea, enhances regional peace and stability, and supports the rules-based international order.

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