Russia scrambled a Su-30 fighter jet after detecting an American P8A Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft over the Black Sea, according to a Defense Ministry statement. The US spy plane was approaching at high speed to the Russian border, the ministry said. The Russian fighter jet buzzed the US Navy reconnaissance plane at around 1pm local time (10:00 GMT) as it was flying over the neutral waters of the Black Sea, the ministry said.
“After moving closer, the Russian [Su-30] fighter jet flew over the object and visually identified it as an American reconnaissance aircraft ?8? Poseidon,” the statement reads. After the spy plane was intercepted by the Russian Air Force, the US aircraft changed course and flew away.
Reporting on the incident, the Pentagon said on Monday that the Russian jet made “unsafe” contact with the Navy reconnaissance aircraft. The Russian Su-30 fighter jet reportedly flew right around 50 feet in front of the P-8A Poseidon, resulting in the American craft experiencing "a 15-degree roll and violent turbulence," CNN reported.
The U.S. aircraft was operating in international airspace and did nothing to provoke this Russian behavior," Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza said of the Saturday incident, which took place over the Black Sea. "Unsafe actions have the potential to cause serious harm and injury to all air crews involved," he added on Monday.
The intercept, which reportedly lasted for around 25 minutes, is not the first time that Russian planes have buzzed U.S. aircraft–with several similar incidents taking place earlier this year.
In June, a Russian jet came within five feet of a U.S. reconnaissance plane near the Baltic Sea–with a Russian SU-27 "rapidly" approaching a U.S. RC-135 reconnaissance plane and acting "provocatively" by performing "unsafe" maneuvers, two U.S. officials told Fox News at the time of the incident. The interaction was deemed unsafe because of the “erratic” way in which the Russian aircraft had flown close to the U.S. spy plane. Over the past several years, there have been countless such incidents with mostly US planes intercepted near the Russian border, as well as the occasional Russian plane intercepted near Alaska.
The incident comes amid increasing tensions between Russia and the U.S. and was preceded by another incident between U.S. and Russian aircraft earlier this month, when Navy F/A-18 fighter jets were dispatched to escort two Russian TU-95 bombers away from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan. However, the November incident was not found to be problematic, with a U.S. official commenting at the time that the interaction–which saw the Russian planes flying around 80 miles away from the aircraft carrier–was deemed to be safe and professional.