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Inverted Russian fighter jet buzzes US Navy plane at 25 feet away

A SU-35 fighter jet in flight. (Aleksandr Markin, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
April 16, 2020

A Russian SU-35 fighter jet caused a close and dangerous encounter with a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane over the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday.

The SU-35 fighter jet intercepted the Navy aircraft over international waters and carried out a high-speed, inverted maneuver, just 25-feet directly in front of the Navy aircraft, the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs said in a press release Wednesday.

The Russian jet was so close in front of the Navy aircraft, the crew reported wake turbulence following the fighter jet’s close pass.

“While the Russian aircraft was operating in international airspace, this interaction was irresponsible. We expect them to behave within international standards set to ensure safety and to prevent incidents, including the 1972 Agreement for the Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas (INCSEA),” the Navy press release stated. “Unsafe actions‎ increase the risk of miscalculation and potential for midair collisions.”

The Navy said its aircraft was operating in a manner consistent with international law, over international waters and had done nothing to provoke the dangerous encounter with the Russian fighter jet.

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The intercept lasted for approximately 42 minutes.

The close flight encounter comes a week after U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) F-22 fighter jets intercepted two Russian IL-38 maritime patrol aircraft flying towards the Alaskan coastline and diverted them before they could reach U.S. or Canadian airspace.

Another pair of Russian reconnaissance planes flew within 50 miles of the Alaskan coast in March and were similarly intercepted and diverted by U.S. F-22’s and Canadian CF-18 fighter jets.

Russia engaged in another provocative act on Wednesday, with the test of a direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile, according to a press release from the U.S. Space Command. They assessed the Russian missile is capable of destroying satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO).

Satellites with characteristics similar to known Russian satellites also previously conducted close maneuvers near a U.S. government satellite, which the U.S. Space Command said, “would be interpreted as irresponsible and potentially threatening in any other domain.”