Unsafe Military Encounters Are Getting More Frequent

This week, a U.S. Navy reconnaissance aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian fighter jet. The Navy released video footage of the incident, labeling the intercept "unsafe" and "irresponsible".

The footage shows the Russian SU-27 turning on its afterburners and banking in front of the U.S. EP-3 Aries, creating vibrations which the crew could feel inside.

However, as Statista's Niall McCarthy notes, even though U.S. Navy encounters with the Russians have created headlines in recent years, notably when the USS Ross was buzzed by Russian jets in the Black Sea in 2015, incidents have proven rare in the past two years.

Dangerous encounters with the Chinese military in the Pacific have become more frequent, however, according to U.S. military statistics published by CNN.

They reveal that the Navy had 18 unsafe or unprofessional encounters with the Chinese military since 2016. In late September, there was a showdown in the South China Sea between a Chinese destroyer and the USS Decatur. The American vessel was conducting a routine freedom-of-navigation operation at the time and the Chinese warship sailed within 45 yards of it, almost causing a collision.

Infographic: Unsafe Military Encounters Getting More Frequent  | Statista

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Over the past two years the Navy experienced 50 unsafe or unprofessional encounters with Iran. There were 36 in 2016, 14 last year and none so far in 2018. That level of contact was due to Iranian naval forces operating in narrow stretches of water such as the Strait of Hormuz, making close contact occur frequently.