A US Navy EP-3 Aries reconnaissance aircraft has been intercepted twice by a Russian Air Force’s Sukhoi SU-27 fighter over the Black Sea, according to American officials.
During the first interception, the Russian combat jet passed directly in front of the US aircraft at a very high speed, putting at the US pilots and crew members at risk.
Later on, the fighter made a second pass, flying very close to the right side of the EP-3 Aries while carrying out a banking turn manoeuvre.
This interaction activated the US aircraft afterburner where fuel is deposited into the exhaust plume for added thrust.
Both interactions took place while the US Navy surveillance aircraft was flying over the Black Sea. The total duration of the intercept lasted for approximately 25 minutes.
While the first interaction reportedly caused turbulence, the second incident resulted in vibrations in the US aircraft, the EP-3 jet crew members said in a statement.
According to US defence officials, although the Russian Air Force is within its right to exercise within international airspace, the interaction is claimed to be ‘unsafe and irresponsible’.
Unsafe actions in the airspace can enhance the risk of miscalculation and increase the chances for mid-air collisions.
The officials said that the US military expects the Russian Armed Forces to behave within international standards established in order to ensure safety and prevent dangerous incidents.