A Russian Su-30 fighter jet made an “unsafe” intercept of a US P-8A Poseidon aircraft Saturday while it was flying over the Black Sea, the Pentagon told CNN Monday.
“The US aircraft was operating in international airspace and did nothing to provoke this Russian behavior,” Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon, told CNN.
The Russian jet’s actions were deemed unsafe because the aircraft crossed in front of the US plane from right to left while engaging its afterburners, forcing the P-8 to enter its jet wash, an action that caused the US plane to experience “a 15-degree roll and violent turbulence,” according to Baldanza.
Baldanza added that the Russian fighter jet came as close as 50 feet from the US aircraft.
She said the P-8 had its transponder on during the incident.
A US Navy official told CNN that the intercept lasted about 24 minutes.
“Unsafe actions have the potential to cause serious harm and injury to all air crews involved,” Baldanza said.
It has been several months since the last reported unsafe interaction between US and Russian aircraft. The most recent reported incident occurred in June, when a Russian Su-27 fighter flew within five feet of a US Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft over the Baltic Sea.
Prior to that incident there had been several similar encounters in the Black Sea, an area where Russia, the US and NATO operate in close proximity, particularly since Russia boosted its military presence in the region following its annexation of Crimea in 2014.