On Jan. 29, 2018, a U.S. EP-3 Aries aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian Su-27. This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the Su-27 closing to within five feet and crossing directly through the EP-3’s flight path, causing the EP-3 to fly through the Su-27’s jet wash. The duration of the intercept lasted two hours and 40 minutes.
The Russian military is within its right to operate within international airspace, but they must behave within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent incidents, including the 1972 Agreement for the Prevention of Incidents on and Over the High Seas (INCSEA). Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and midair collisions.
Featured image of A Russian SU-27 fighter escorting Fencing 1220, a Gulfstream 4 simulating a hijacked airliner, over the Kamchatka Peninsula as part of Exercise VIGILANT EAGLE by U.S. Army photo by Maj. Mike Humphreys