A Russian fighter aircraft approached a U.S. Navy plane over the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday, according to both governments.
The U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet described it as “another unsafe Russian intercept of a U.S. Navy P-8 in international airspace above the Mediterranean Sea.” It said the Russian jet got within 25 feet of the Boeing P-8 Poseidon and put “both crews in harm’s way. We expect nothing less than professional & safe interactions!”
The 6th Fleet also included a video of the Russian aircraft.
BREAKING: Another unsafe #Russian 🇷🇺 intercept of 🇺🇸 @USNavy P-8 in international airspace above #Mediterranean Sea! The Russian aircraft got within 25 feet of the P-8, putting both crews in harm’s way. We expect nothing less than professional & safe interactions!@USEmbRuPress pic.twitter.com/gDdcQQRkOi
— U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet (@USNavyEurope) April 19, 2020
“The unnecessary actions of the Russian SU-35 pilot were inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules, seriously jeopardizing the safety of flight of both aircraft,” the U.S. Navy said in a longer news release on Monday. “While the Russian aircraft was operating in international airspace, this interaction was irresponsible. We expect them to behave within international standards set to ensure safety and to prevent incidents..”
The SU-35 jet intercepted the P-8A twice over a period of about 100 minutes, the Navy said. While the first intercept was deemed safe, the second was not, according to the news release.
“This incident follows the April 15, 2020 interaction over the same waters, where a Russian SU-35 flew inverted within 25 ft. of the U.S. P-8A. In both cases, the U.S. aircraft were operating consistent with international law and did not provoke this Russian activity,” the Navy said.
The Russian military confirmed the intercept, saying the aircraft took off from the Hmeimim airbase in Syria and was on a mission to identify a target approaching Russian facilities in the country.
“The pilot of the Russian fighter after approach identified the tail number of the aircraft belonging to the US Navy, and took it for escort,” the Russian statement said. The aircraft then changed its course, the statement read, CNN reported.
The U.S. military’s Space Command said last week the Kremlin also conducted an anti-satellite missile. Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, with the Space Command, said the test “provides yet another example that the threats to U.S. and allied space systems are real, serious and growing.”