A Russian military plane intercepted a U.S. military aircraft multiple times Tuesday over international waters.
Here’s what we know
In a statement, the U.S. 6th Fleet said:
On June 4, 2019, a U.S. P-8A Poseidon aircraft flying in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea was intercepted by a Russian SU-35 three times over the course of 175 minutes.
The P-8A Poseidon is the military’s version of the Boeing 737.
While the 6th Fleet said that “the first and third interaction were determined to be safe,” it said that the “second interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the SU-35 conducting a high speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, which put our pilots and crew at risk.”
This interception was not in violation of international treaties, but was considered to be “irresponsible.” Interactions like these “increase the risk of miscalculation and potential for midair collisions.” The 6th Fleet said that the U.S. aircraft “did not provoke this Russian activity.”
Haven’t we heard this story before?
This type of reckless aerial interaction between U.S. and Russian fighter jets is becoming all too common.
In May 2018, a Russian SU-37 jet flew within 20 feet of a U.S. Navy plane over the Baltic sea. Then, in November, a Russian SU-27 intercepted another U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance plane. Both of these interceptions were also over international airspace and were criticized by the Navy as being “unprofessional” and “irresponsible.”
And just two weeks ago, the U.S. intercepted six Russian planes (four Tupolev Tu-95 bombers and two Su-35 fighters) that had left international airspace and entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone. In September 2018, there were two additional incidents with Russian military planes flying close to Alaska.