PHOTOS: US Navy says a pair of Russian fighter jets 'unsafely' intercepted a US patrol aircraft, risking a midair collision

US NavyA Russian Su-35 alongside a US Navy P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft Tuesday.
  • The US Navy has accused two Russian Su-35 fighter jets of conducting an “unsafe and unprofessional” intercept of a P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft over the Mediterranean Tuesday, releasing photos and video from the incident.
  • The two Russian fighters closed in on both wings of the US aircraft simultaneously, “restricting the P-8A’s ability to safely manoeuvre,” the Navy said in a statement.
  • Tuesday’s intercept marks the third unsafe intercept over the Mediterranean in two months, following two similar incidents in April.
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Two Russian Su-35 fighter jets “unsafely” intercepted a US Navy P-8A Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft over the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday, US Naval Forces Europe-Africa/US 6th Fleet said in a statement.

A Russian Su-35 'unsafely' intercepting a US Navy P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraftUS NavyA Russian Su-35 ‘unsafely’ intercepting a US Navy P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft Tuesday.

“The intercept was determined to be unsafe and unprofessional due to the Russian pilots taking close station on each wing of the P- 8A simultaneously, restricting the P-8A’s ability to safely manoeuvre,” the Navy said, calling the actions of the Russian pilots “unnecessary” and “irresponsible.”

A Russian Su-35 'unsafely' intercepting a US Navy P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraftUS NavyA Russian Su-35 ‘unsafely’ intercepting a US Navy P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft Tuesday.

The Navy, stressing that such actions “increase the potential for midair collisions,” further stated that Russian behaviour during the 65-minute intercept was “inconsistent with good airman ship and international flight rules” and “jeopardized the safety of flight” for all aircraft involved.

A Russian Su-35 'unsafely' intercepting a US Navy P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraftUS NavyA Russian Su-35 ‘unsafely’ intercepting a US Navy P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft

Tuesday’s “unsafe and unprofessional intercept,” part of which can be seen in this US Navy video, follows two similar incidents in April.

On April 15, a Russian Su-35 intercepted a P-8A over the Mediterranean, conducting “a high-speed, inverted manoeuvre, 25 ft. directly in front of the mission aircraft,” the Navy said.

On April 19, a Russian Su-35 fighter twice intercepted a US Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft operating in international airspace over the Mediterranean. While the first intercept was acceptable, the Navy considered the second “unsafe and unprofessional.”

During the risky intercept, the Russian fighter executed a “high-speed, high-powered manoeuvre that decreased aircraft separation to within 25 feet, directly in front of the P-8A, exposing the US aircraft to wake turbulence and jet exhaust,” the Navy said.

The Navy has reported three such incidents in the same area in the past two months. In all cases, the Navy has insisted that the “unsafe” intercepts were unprovoked.

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