U.S. Navy Reports "Unsafe" Approach by Russian Fighter
On Monday, a Russian fighter jet made an "unsafe" approach during an interaction with a U.S. Navy EP-3E Aries II maritime patrol aircraft over the Black Sea, according to Navy officials. The incident forced the Aries' pilots to end their mission early.
"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," Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze, spokeswoman for U.S. Naval Forces Europe, in a statement Monday.
The close approach is the second in as many months. On November 25, an Su-30 allegedly passed in front of a P-8A Poseidon at a distance of 50 feet and turned on its afterburners. This created "violent turbulence" and put the Poseidon into a 15-degree roll, said Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Cl. Michelle Baldanza.
Following the November incident, a Russian official press service asserted that the Su-30 scrambled to intercept an air target "approaching the state border at high speed." Without reference to the allegedly unsafe interaction, the press service said that the fighter approached the P-8A, which then changed course away from Russian airspace.
Iranian close approaches wind down
U.S. Navy officials say that the two-year trend of "unprofessional" and "unsafe" close approaches by armed Iranian attack boats in the Persian Gulf has largely tailed off. Up until last August, American naval vessels regularly fended off Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boats using flares and warning shots, but the provocative behavior has quieted, officials say.
"While we consider the decreased incidents in the second half of 2017 to be a positive development, the United States Navy remains vigilant as we continue to operate," a Navy spokesman told CNN.
An Iranian official credited the U.S. Navy for the wind-down in confrontational encounters. "We see that Americans behavior has changed. They pay more attention to international regulations and avoid approaching Iran's territorial waters," said Rear Adm. Ali Ozmaei, a senior commander in the IRGC naval forces, speaking to Iran's Tasnim news service.