A Russian fighter jet raised alarm bells throughout the Pentagon when it came within five feet of a United States Navy plane in international airspace over the Black Sea; forcing the US aircraft to prematurely end its mission and return to base.
Pentagon officials confirmed the incident on Monday, saying the Russian military performed an “unsafe intercept” of a US Navy P-3 Orion surveillance plane operating in eastern Europe and western Asia.
“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 Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze.
“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),” she added. “Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and midair collisions.”
The incident is the latest example of “unsafe intercepts” between Russian aircraft and NATO forces operating in the area.
Russia, the United States, NATO, and other European militaries operate in close proximity surrounding the Black Sea, particularly since Russia expanded its forces in the region four years ago during its invasion of Crimea.
h/t The Hill