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Russia releases video of its fighter jet intercepting US spy planes over Black Sea   

A Russian Su-27 fighter. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher)
July 31, 2020

A Russian Su-27 fighter jet intercepted two U.S. military surveillance planes over the Black Sea on Thursday.

The Russian Ministry of Defense released video footage of the intercepts, in which the Russian fighter jet flew alongside a U.S. Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft and a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon base patrol aircraft.

“On July 30, 2020, two air targets were detected approaching the state border of the Russian Federation by Russian means of airspace control over the neutral waters of the Black sea,” the Russian Defense Ministry stated. “To intercept targets, a Su-27 fighter of the Southern Military District’s Air Defence forces on duty raised into the air. The crew of the Russian fighter jet consistently approached the air objects at a safe distance.”

The Russian Defense Ministry indicated its fighter jet performed the intercepts in accordance with international aviation rules.

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The Russian statement also indicated the two U.S. military aircraft turned away before passing over the Russian border and “violations of the State border of the Russian Federation by American reconnaissance aircraft were not registered.”

The Russian intercept flights did not appear to raise any alarm within U.S. commands and a spokesman for the Air Force command in Europe previously told American Military News that “most interactions are safe and professional” and “unless an interaction is unsafe, we will not discuss specific details.”

Russian Su-27 and Su-30 fighter jets intercepted U.S. B-1B Lancer bombers over the Baltic Sea and Black Sea in a similar pair of intercepts in May.

Other intercepts in the past have not been as incident-free. On two separate occasions in April, Russian fighter jets flew dangerously close to Navy P-8A Poseidons, passing within 25 feet of the U.S. planes. In both incidents, the Russian fighter jets passed so close to the U.S. planes that they caused wake turbulence. In one of the incidents, the Russian pilot flew an inverted pass, raising the potential for a mid-air collision.

In another April incident, several armed Russian fighter jets stalked U.S. warship operating in the Baltic Sea before a Belgian F-16 fighter jet assigned to NATO chased them off.