A US Navy reconnaissance aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian fighter jet in an unsafe and unprofessional manner, according to American defence officials.
During an encounter on Monday that lasted a total of 25 minutes, the Russian SU-27 jet passed directly in front of the US EP-3 aircraft at a high speed, CNN quoted the officials as saying.
The US crew reported turbulence following that initial interaction in which the direct pass occurred.
The SU-27 then made a second pass of the US plane and applied its afterburner while conducting a banking manoeuvre, which is believed to have caused a vibration that was experienced by the American crew.
“This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the SU-27 conducting a high speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, which put our pilots and crew at risk,” a statement from the US Navy said.
“The intercepting SU-27 made an additional pass, closing with the EP-3 and applying its afterburner while conducting a banking turn away. The crew of the EP-3 reported turbulence following the first interaction, and vibrations from the second.”
The Navy EP-3 was operating out of Souda Bay, Greece, according to Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon.
The plane had its transponder on for the duration of the mission but there was no communication established or attempted between the Russian and US aircraft, CNN quoted Pahon as saying.
A Twitter account for the Russian embassy in the US posted a brief statement about Monday’s encounter, saying the fighter jet “followed all necessary safety procedures”.
The last reported unsafe intercept of a US Navy aircraft by a Russian jet occurred in January when a Russian Su-27 jet flew within five feet of a US Navy EP-3, forcing the Navy plane to fly through its jet wash.
The US Navy deemed that intercept unsafe and unprofessional.__Hindustan Times