A Navy P-8A Poseidon flying over the Black Sea was rocked Saturday when a Russian jet flew just 50 feet in front of the American aircraft, leaving the Poseidon in the fighter’s afterburners, U.S. European Command officials said Tuesday.
The Poseidon was flying in international airspace as part of routine operations to exercise freedom of navigation and overflight at the time, according to EUCOM.
“The Russian SU-30 crossed in front of the P-8 (from right to left) in afterburner causing a 15 degree roll and violent turbulence,” EUCOM spokeswoman Meghan Henderson said in an email. “The P-8 was forced to fly through the jet wash of the SU-30.”
The entire interaction — from the Russian jet’s first appearance until losing contact — lasted 24 minutes, she said.
The F/A-18s were dispatched from the carrier Ronald Reagan Sunday to escort two Russian bombers approaching the ship, CNN reports.
“This interaction was determined to be unsafe,” Henderson said.
The Russian state-run Tass news agency cited a government statement contending that the Poseidon was approaching Russia’s border at a high speed when the Sukhoi 30 jet conducted the interception.
The Poseidon was on a rotational deployment out of Sigonella, Italy, at the time.
Saturday’s incident follows a similar but less-severe Russian interaction on Oct. 28, when two F/A-18 Hornets were scrambled to intercept two Russian bombers that were flying toward the Japan-based aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan.
The TU-95 bombers flew within about 80 miles of the Reagan in an incident the Navy described as safe and professional.
The Poseidon is the Navy’s newest maritime, patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, and is replacing the older P-3C Orion.