A Russian SU-27 fighter jet flew directly in front of a U.S. Navy plane two times over the Black Sea Monday, causing violent turbulence and vibrations for the American crew, CNN reported.
The Russian craft made two passes in front of the U.S. EP-3 reconnaissance craft that the Navy has called “unsafe,” though it did not provide an estimate for how close the two craft came to one another, according to CNN.
The Russian air force has repeatedly made similar “unsafe intercepts” of U.S. craft over the Black Sea since 2017.
At one point, a Russian fighter came within 20 feet of an American spy plane.
“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,” the U.S. Navy said in a statement. “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.”
Russian aircraft also made “unsafe and unprofessional” passes over a U.S. Navy destroyer in February 2017.
The fighter jets made low-altitude, high-speed passes at the USS Porter in international waters in the Black Sea. The offending aircraft included several Sukhoi Su-24 Fencers and an Ilyushin Il-38 surveillance aircraft.
Flying at 300 feet at a speed of 500 knots, one of the fighters came within 200 yards of the USS Porter in one particularly dangerous incident.
A Russian SU-30 made another dangerous intercept of a U.S. plane in November 2017.
The jet crossed right in front of the U.S. P-8A Poseidon aircraft to the left and right and used its afterburners to drive the Poseidon into the jet wash, that forced it into a “15-degree roll and violent turbulence.”
“The US aircraft was operating in international airspace and did nothing to provoke this Russian behavior,” Pentagon spokeswoman Army Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza said at the time.
The full intercept lasted for 24 minutes.
Russia’s aggression in and over international waters mirrors that of China in the South China Sea.
Chinese warships have hounded US craft in the region, engaging in a collision course with the USS Decatur in September and forcing it to change course or “suffer consequences.”
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