Russian Su-35 fighter jets intercepted a U.S. Navy aircraft over international waters in the Eastern Mediterranean on Tuesday, the U.S. Navy has said. The Russain interception of the U.S. Navy P-8A maritime patrol aircraft lasted more than an hour, the Navy 6th Fleet command said.
The statement said the Russian move was 'unnecessary' and that it hindered the aircraft's ability to maneuver. The 6th Fleet added that the Russian action potentially increased the chances of mid-air collision.
Safety of Both Aircraft at Risk
"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 6th Fleet said.
The US Navy added that the U.S. aircraft were operating in international airspace, abiding by international laws and keeping due regard for the safety of flight. The aircraft did not provoke any Russian activity, it added.
"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."
It has been reported that this is the third similar incident in two months wherein Russian aircraft unsafely intercepted American reconnaissance aircraft over international waters in the Mediterranean. The first was on April 19, when a Su-35 came very close to a P-8A. There was hardly a distance of eight meters between the aircraft at that point. The US aircraft was exposed to wake turbulence and jet exhaust, Radio Free Liberty reported. The other interception happened on April 15, when an SU-35 made high-speed maneuver meters from the US Navy reconnaissance aircraft.