A Russian SU-27 jet intercepted a US Navy P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft over the Black Sea on Jan. 29 2018, coming within five feet of the aircraft, US Naval Forces Europe confirmed.
“A US EP-3 Aries aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian SU-27,” according to the Navy statement.
“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.”
The intercept lasted two hours and 40 minutes, according to the Navy. The EP-3 is a variant of the Navy’s P-3 Orion, specializing in signals intelligence.
The incident reportedly forced the crew of the aircraft to prematurely end its mission and was first reported by CNN. Monday’s intercept is the latest in a string of “unsafe” intercepts that the Russian military has conducted.
In November 2017, a Russian Su-30 fighter flew as close as 50 feet before turning on its afterburners while intercepting a US Navy P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine warfare aircraft over the same area.
The maneuver forced the plane to enter its jet wash and caused it to undergo a 15-degree roll, Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said at the time.
The US Navy has been conducting reconnaissance missions over the Black Sea at a high rate since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014.
There have been a number of aerial intercept incidents between US and Russian aircraft over the past year, even outside of Europe.
The most recent intercept occurred over Syria in December, and saw two US Air Force F-22s be intercepted by Russian Su-25 and Su-35. The US Aircraft had to fire flares as warnings to the Russian jets, one of which “had to aggressively maneuver to avoid a midair collision.”
Russia has denied the incident in Syria took place.