A US Navy surveillance plane flying in international airspace over the Black Sea was buzzed by a Russian Su-27 jet in another unsafe, dangerous provocation on Monday defense officials said.
The Russian pilot reportedly came within 5 feet of the US plane according to defense department officials. Some hotshot Russian pilot have an old copy of Top Gun?
The Russian jet’s action forced the US Navy aircraft to end its mission prematurely, one of the officials said.
The US State Department issued a statement late Monday accusing the Russians of “flagrantly violating existing agreements and international law.”
“This is but the latest example of Russian military activities disregarding international norms and agreements,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in the statement. “We call on Russia to cease these unsafe actions that increase the risk of miscalculation, danger to aircrew on both sides, and midair collisions.”
US Naval Forces Europe, which oversees US operations in the region, provided more detail about the intercept, which it said lasted a total of two hours and 40 minutes.
“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,” US Naval Forces Europe spokesman, Capt. Pamela Kunze told CNN.
The Russian Defense Ministry said its fighter jet flew “strictly in accordance with international rules” when it intercepted the US surveillance plane.
In a statement, the Defense Ministry said that an “unidentified air target” was detected approaching Russian airspace at about midday over the neutral waters of the Black Sea.
“A Su-27 fighter was sent to intercept the target and approached the aircraft at a safe distance and identified it as an ER-3E (Aries II) US reconnaissance aircraft,” the statement said. “The crew of the fighter jet reported the identification of the American reconnaissance aircraft and accompanied it, preventing it from violating Russian airspace, observing all necessary security measures.”
“The entire flight of the Russian Su-27 was strictly in accordance with international rules for the use of airspace and there were no extraordinary events,” the statement added.
This has been an on-going issue for several months with Russian pilots, an incident a few months ago with an Su-27 flying in front of a US plane while kicking in its afterburners caused the plane to fly thru the jet wash, which is an inherently dangerous maneuver. The P-8 reconnaissance plane suffered a 15 percent roll and violent turbulence over that stunt.
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