On Sunday, a Russian fighter jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. Navy plane within 25 feet over international airspace for the second time in four days.
Twice in the span of approximately 100 minutes, a Russian SU-35 flew up on a U.S. Navy P8-A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance plane flying over the Mediterranean Sea in what the Navy has described as an unsafe and unprofessional act. According to a Navy press release, the second intercept came so close it caused the P8-A to experience wake turbulence from the Russian fighter’s jets.
BREAKING: Another unsafe #Russian 🇷🇺 intercept of 🇺🇸 @USNavy P-8 in international airspace above #Mediterranean Sea! The Russian aircraft got within 25 feet of the P-8, putting both crews in harm’s way. We expect nothing less than professional & safe interactions!@USEmbRuPress pic.twitter.com/gDdcQQRkOi
— U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet (@USNavyEurope) April 19, 2020
The close encounter was caught on video and is the second incident in four days in which Russian SU-35 fighter jets have intercepted U.S. Navy aircraft flying over the Mediterranean. A prior incident on April 15 saw one of the Russian fighter jets perform an inverted pass within 25 feet of the U.S. plane, raising a serious risk of a mid-air collision.
In both incidents, the U.S. Navy has noted its aircraft were operating over international airspace in accordance with international law regarding air traffic. The U.S. Navy has also said on both occasions its aircraft have not acted to provoke the Russian fighters.
“The unnecessary actions of the Russian SU-35 pilot were inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules, seriously jeopardizing the safety of flight of both aircraft,” the U.S. Navy press release states. “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 press release continued. “Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and potential for midair collisions.”
The pair of intercepts by Russian fighters also comes within weeks of March and April intercepts by U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) F-22 fighters against Russian reconnaissance planes flying towards U.S. and Canadian airspace near Alaska.
— North American Aerospace Defense Command (@NORADCommand) March 11, 2020