- A Russian Su-27 made a dangerous pass ahead of a US Navy EP-3 Aries taking part in a NATO military exercise in international air space above the Black Sea on Monday.
- Video shows the jet streaking just feet from the US plane and blasting its afterburners, which was likely not needed.
- The US Navy said the jet engines created turbulence for the crew, and it was dangerous.
A Russian Su-27 fighter made a dangerous pass ahead of a US Navy EP-3 Aries taking part in a NATO military exercise in international air space above the Black Sea on Monday.
The US Navy released video of the incident, which clearly shows the Su-27 sharply turning in front of the plane with its engines blaring. Jet engines produce “jet wash,” or wake turbulence, which poses a serious risk to nearby aircraft. In training, friendly aircraft can down each other by flying too close.
A US Navy statement on the incident called the Russian jet’s behaviour “unsafe.”
“This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the SU-27 conducting a high speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, which put our pilots and crew at risk,” the Navy said in a Monday statement. “The intercepting SU-27 made an additional pass, closing with the EP-3 and applying its afterburner while conducting a banking turn away. The crew of the EP-3 reported turbulence following the first interaction, and vibrations from the second. The duration of the intercept was approximately 25 minutes.”
The Su-27 then made an additional pass where it got in front of the Navy plane and turned on its afterburners, or ignited the gasses coming off the jet engines for extra thrust.
The Su-27 wouldn’t need to go all out with afterburners to pass the propeller-driven EP-3, but the burners would likely exacerbate turbulence felt by the Navy crew. The Navy said the intercept lasted for 25 minutes.
A Pentagon spokesperson told Business Insider Russia made “no radio contact,” breaking a norm for air-to-air intercepts that typically get resolved verbally.
These type of actions “put our aircrews in danger,” and “there is no reason for this behaviour,” the spokesperson continued.
Though the US has announced its Trident Juncture military exercises in international airspace and waters, or over friendly countries with their approval, Russia’s military has made a number of “surprise visits,” most recently with a long-range bomber flying over a US warship.
The EP-3 is a electronic warfare and surveillance plane used by the US Navy. Russia’s Su-27 handles both air-to-air combat and serves in a bomber role.