WASHINGTON — A Russian fighter jet, flying at high speed, came within 10 feet of a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace over the Black Sea late last month, several U.S. officials told CNN Thursday.
The Russian jet flew alongside the U.S. plane at the same altitude, broke off, and then shadowed the plane before leaving the area in the May 30 incident, the officials said. The U.S. aircraft took no evasive measures, and no other details were immediately available. Military officials could not say whether a diplomatic protest had been filed.
The close call comes weeks after another incident between the U.S. and Russia over the skies of Europe, when a U.S. RC-135U flying a routine route in international airspace was intercepted by a Russian SU-27 Flanker in what authorities called an “unsafe and unprofessional manner.”
And earlier this month, the U.S. Navy took the unusual step of releasing video of Russian Su-24 aircraft flying past the right side of the guided missile destroyer USS Ross in the Black Sea.
The video was distributed to make clear that the airplanes and ship had a routine encounter, contrary to Russian reports. It shows a warplane approaching from the distance and then quickly zooming past the American vessel.
The Russian aircraft were not armed, according to a U.S. defense official, and the entire matter was considered routine.
The U.S. officials say because there are more military aircraft from NATO and Russia flying over the Black Sea and the Baltics, there are more interactions. However, the two air incidents are of particular concern because of the danger they posed to U.S. aircraft and personnel.