A Russian fighter plane flew within five feet of a U.S. Navy plane over the Black Sea on Monday, Jan. 29, defense officials said.
The Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane was flying in international airspace at the time of the incident, the Pentagon said
But a Russian Su-27 aircraft came within a few feet of the U.S. plane, “crossing directly through the EP-3’s flight path,” the Pentagon said.
“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,” said a statement from the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Public Affairs department.
The entire incident lasted two hours and 40 minutes, officials said.
Russian warplane flies within whisker of US jet https://t.co/9ZLef3uVU8
— SCMP News (@SCMP_News) January 29, 2018
Russian Fighter Jet Flies Within 5 Feet Of US Spy Plane, Causing "Violent Turbulence" https://t.co/EJL3jL98BY
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) January 29, 2018
“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,” the Pentagon said.
It said, “The U.S. aircraft was operating in accordance with international law and did not provoke this Russian activity.”
One official, who was not named, told CNN that the intercepted U.S. Navy aircraft was forced to end its mission prematurely.
The Russian Defense Ministry, however, said that its jet flew “strictly in accordance with international rules” during the encounter.
“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 Russian defense ministry 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.
It’s the first unsafe incident between U.S. and Russian jets since November, which also took place over the Black Sea.