A Russian jet intercepted a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft over the Mediterranean sea on Sunday — marking the second instance in less than a week a Russian jet has intercepted a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon over the same waters, the Navy said.
According to the service, a Russian SU-35 intercepted the P-8 Poseidon twice over the course of 100 minutes as the aircraft was flying in international airspace.
“The first intercept was deemed safe and professional,” the Navy’s 6th Fleet said in a news release. “The second intercept was determined to be unsafe and unprofessional due to the SU-35 a conducting high-speed, high-powered maneuver that decreased aircraft separation to within 25 feet, directly in front of the P-8A, exposing the U.S. aircraft to wake turbulence and jet exhaust.”
The move prompted the P-8 Poseidon to descend to provide more distance between the two aircraft. The Navy said that the surveillance aircraft was operating at constant altitude and airspeed at the time of the altercation.
The 6th Fleet characterized the interception as “irresponsible” and out of line with international flight rules, adding that it put the safety of the P-8 Poseidon and the Russian jet at risk.
“Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and potential for midair collisions,” the 6th Fleet said.
A Russian SU-35 conducted a maneuver akin to this most recent episode on April 15, according to the Navy. In that case, the Navy said the Russian jet also came as close as 25 feet of the P-8 Poseidon as it conducted a high speed maneuver during a 42-minute interception.
The 6th Fleet said the Navy aircraft did not provoke the Russian jets and was complying with international law in both instances.