U.S. Navy Reports Two "Unsafe" Russian Fighter Intercepts in One Week

Video still courtesy USN

Published Apr 20, 2020 1:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Sunday, a Russian fighter jet made an unsafe close approach with a U.S. Navy Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft over the Mediterranean, the Navy said in a statement. It was the second alleged close encounter between a Russian jet and a Navy maritime patrol plane in a week. 

In Sunday's incident, a U.S. Navy P-8A aircraft in international airspace was intercepted twice by a Russian SU-35 fighter over a period of about an hour and a half.  The first intercept was deemed safe and professional.  The Navy alleged that the second was "unsafe and unprofessional" because the fighter carried out a high-speed maneuver that put it 25 feet in front of the P-8A, exposing the Poseidon to wake turbulence and jet exhaust. In response, the Poseidon descended in order to create separation. The service characterized the maneuver as "unnecessary," "unsafe" and "inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules."

"Show more professionalism. Fly with more regard for safety. The life you save might be your own," wrote Navy Chief of Information Rear Adm. Charlie Brown in a statement. 

This incident follows after a similar encounter in the same area on Wednesday, when a Russian SU-35 flew inverted 25 feet in front of the U.S. P-8A. The crew of the P-8A reported wake turbulence following the interaction.