Officials with the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet said the Russian jet, incompatible with good airmanship and universal flight rules, came within 25 feet of the P-8 while flying in international airspace. The jet twice came too close to the P-8 over a period of 100 minutes, they said.
The second intercept was determined to be unsafe and unprofessional, exposing the P-8 to wake turbulence and jet exhaust.
The Navy, which tweeted a video of the incident, said the American aircraft was “operating consistent with international law and did not provoke this Russian activity.”
It’s the second time in four days a Russian fighter jet has buzzed a U.S. spy plane over the Mediterranean.
On Wednesday, the Navy accused another Russian jet of a similar “unsafe” high-speed maneuver when it cut across the nose of another U.S. P-8 while “inverted,” or flying upside down.
“While the Russian aircraft was operating in international airspace, this interaction was irresponsible,” the statement read, citing the 1972 Agreement for the Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas. “We expect them to behave within international standards set to ensure safety and to prevent incidents.”
The Navy said the Russian SU-35’s intercept lasted 42 minutes, adding the U.S. P-8A Poseidon aircraft “was operating consistent with international law and did not provoke this Russian activity.”