Moscow rejects reports on ‘unsafe intercept’ of US spy plane over Mediterranean

The Russian Defense Ministry has repudiated reports by the press service of the US 6th Fleet about the ‘unsafe intercept’ of a US reconnaissance plane by Russia’s Sukhoi Su-35 jet over the Mediterranean.

“All flights by Russian aircraft were conducted in accordance with international rules for the use of airspace. There were no complaints from the American aviation flight de-confliction center in Syria addressed to the Russian command,” the Defense Ministry told reporters on Wednesday.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, at around 12:30 Moscow time on June 4, the Russian airspace control system at Hmeymim Air Base detected an air target in the international waters of the Mediterranean approaching Russia’s Tartus naval facility. A Su-35 jet was scrambled from Hmeymim Air Base to identify the air target.

Having approached it at a safe distance, the Russian jet’s crew visually identified it as a P-8A Poseidon US reconnaissance plane. After the American aircraft changed its course, the Russian jet returned to the air base.

At around 15:41 Moscow time, the Russian airspace control system once again spotted a P-8A Poseidon plane approaching Russia’s Tartus naval facility. The alert crew of a Russian Su-35 jet was scrambled. It approached the US aircraft at a safe distance, escorting it until the US plane changed its flight direction and left the airspace controlled by the air defense facilities.