A U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft was intercepted by two Russian Su-35 fighter jet over international waters of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea on May 26, the U.S. Navy said in a statement.
According to the U.S. Navy, the intercept, which lasted for 65 minutes, was determined to be “unsafe and unprofessional” due to the “Russian pilots taking close station on each wing of the P- 8A simultaneously, restricting the P-8A’s ability to safely maneuver”.
“The unnecessary actions of the Russian Su-35 pilots were inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules, and jeopardized the safety of flight of both aircraft”, the statement said.
This is the third time in two months Russian pilots were flying in an unsafe and unprofessional manner while intercepting a U.S. Navy P-8A in U.S. 6th Fleet. The first incident occurred on April 15 and the second incident occurred on April 19.
“While the Russian aircraft was operating in international airspace, this interaction was irresponsible. We expect them to operate within international standards set to ensure safety and to prevent incidents, including the 1972 Agreement for the Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas (INCSEA). Actions like these increase the potential for midair collisions”, the statement added.
This incident follows two unsafe interactions in April, over the same waters. “In all cases, the U.S. aircraft were operating in international airspace, consistent with international law, with due regard for safety of flight, and did not provoke this Russian activity”, the statement noted.