The Pentagon has blasted the Russian military for a dangerous incident Wednesday over the Mediterranean Sea which the US says nearly led to a midair collision.
The near disaster began when a Russian fighter jet intercepted an American P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft, which is typically used for tracking submarines, at very close range.
Notably as Stars and Stripes describes, the Russian jet was inverted at a high-speed close to the US plane: "a Russian SU-35 performed a high-speed, inverted maneuver 25 feet in front of the Navy plane, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa said in a statement."
In total the incident was said to last 42 minutes, causing strong turbulence aboard the P-8A the whole time, according to the Navy. The Russian jet effectively "buzzed" the US plane, similar to a prior June 2019 incident over the Mediterranean.
“Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and potential for midair collisions,” US Naval Forces Europe-Africa said.
“The U.S. aircraft was operating consistent with international law and did not provoke this Russian activity,” the statement added.
Typically such close US-Russian aerial encounters occur over the Baltic and Black Sea regions, as well as in international airspace off Alaska, such as a recent incident involving US F-22s chasing off Russian maritime patrol planes 50 miles of the Alaskan coast.
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