Russian pilots intercepted a US Navy aircraft in an “unsafe and unprofessional manner” on Sunday for the second time within four days, claimed the US Naval Forces Sixth Fleet. A US Navy P-8A Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft in the Sixth Fleet was flying in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea when it was intercepted twice by a Russian SU-35 within two hours.
The first intercept was considered safe and professional, according to the Navy statement, but the second intercept was determined to be unsafe and unprofessional due to a high-speed, high-powered maneuver by the Russian aircraft that brought the two aircraft within 25 feet of each other with the SU-35 directly in front of the US Naval aircraft.
The maneuver exposed the US aircraft to wake turbulence and jet exhaust, according to the US Navy. “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,” stated the Sixth Fleet.
On Wednesday, a Russian SU-35 flew inverted within 25 feet of a US P8-A over the same waters. In both cases, the US aircraft were operating consistent with international law and didn’t provoke the activity, according to the US Navy.
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 Russian Ministry of Defense responded to the incident on Sunday, claiming that the US aircraft was heading toward the Khmeimim Air Base in Latakia, Syria, where Russian troops, aircraft and S-400 air defense systems are stationed, according to the Russian Sputnik News.
“After approaching the aircraft, the pilot of the Russian fighter identified the plane’s tail number and its status as an aircraft of the US Navy, and took it under escort,” said the ministry of defense, adding that the aircraft then changed course, allowing the Russian aircraft to return to the airfield. READ MORE HERE