Russian jet flies within 10 feet of US Navy aircraft

A Russian jet followed a U.S. Navy reconnaissance aircraft for nearly 20 minutes Wednesday, eventually coming within 10 feet of the plane. Fox News reports:

A Russian fighter jet zoomed within just 10 feet of a U.S. Navy spy plane over the Black Sea on Wednesday, the latest in a string of daring maneuvers involving Russian aircraft and the U.S. military, a defense official with knowledge of the incident told Fox News.

The Russian Su-27 Flanker jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft used primarily for anti-submarine warfare while on routine patrol in international airspace, defense officials said…

“We have concerns when there is an unsafe maneuver like this. These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions, and could result in a miscalculation or accident,” Navy Captain Jeff A. Davis told reporters.

Russian officials say they sent the Su-27 to intercept because the Navy plane had its transponder turned off. A defense official quoted by Fox didn’t deny that was the case but said having a transponder on was “not a requirement for a military aircraft.” More importantly, it seems unlikely the Russian pilot needed to be within 10 feet of the Navy plane in order to identify it.

There is apparently a photo of the close encounter but officials haven’t decided whether to release it or not.

This is not the first close encounter involving Russian jets and the U.S. military this year. Back in April, Russian jets flew within 30 feet of the USS Donald Cook. Also in April, a Russian jet did a “barrel roll” over another U.S. reconnaissance aircraft. CNN reported at the time:

The Russian SU-27 approached alongside within 25 feet of the U.S. aircraft and then flew inverted over the top of the plane to the other side, Lt. Col. Michelle L. Baldanza, a U.S. Army spokesperson, said in a statement.

“The SU-27 intercepted the U.S. aircraft flying a routine route at high rate of speed from the side then proceeded to perform an aggressive maneuver that posed a threat to the safety of the U.S. aircrew in the RC-135,” Baldanza said.

Here’s the Fox News report on today’s incident: