Russian fighter jet executes 'unsafe' intercept of US Navy aircraft, coming within 25 feet of an American plane

Associated PressA Russian Su-35 fighter jet.
  • A Russian Su-35 fighter jet on Sunday conducted an “unsafe” intercept of a US Navy P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft operating over the Mediterranean Sea, the US Navy said.
  • The Russian fighter came within 25 feet of the US aircraft, “seriously jeopardizing the safety of flight of both aircraft,” the Navy said.
  • Sunday’s intercept marked the second time in four days that a Russian fighter jet has conducted a dangerous intercept of a US Navy plane.
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For the second time in four days, a Russian fighter jet conducted an “unsafe” intercept of a US aircraft over the Mediterranean Sea, the US Navy said on Sunday.

The Navy said in a press release that over roughly an hour and a half on Sunday, 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 P-8A descended to create space between it and the Russian fighter jet.

The Navy accused the Russian pilot of “seriously jeopardizing the safety of flight of both aircraft.”

The service captured the incident on video.

Sunday’s intercept followed a similar incident on Wednesday, when 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 in a statement at the time.

The Navy said the Russian aircraft’s actions were “irresponsible” and accused Russia of putting “our pilots and crew at risk.”

In both cases, the Navy said, the US aircraft did not provoke the Russian fighters.

The US is battling a serious coronavirus outbreak, but US adversaries continue to cause headaches for the military.

Last week, the US Navy also had an unpleasant run-in with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy.

On Wednesday, 11 Iranian vessels “conducted dangerous and harassing approaches” against US Navy and Coast Guard vessels operating in the Persian Gulf, repeatedly crossing the bows and sterns of the US ships and at one point coming within 10 yards of a US vessel, the Navy said.

“This is why I said we must maintain our national mission capabilities – our readiness, our ability to protect the United States – because our adversaries are not standing down,” Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show.

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