WASHINGTON — A Russian military jet performed an unsafe intercept of a US Navy P-3 Orion surveillance plane while it was flying in international airspace over the Black Sea Monday, three defense officials told CNN.
The American pilots reported that the Russian jet came within five feet of the US plane, according to two of the officials.
The Russian jet’s action forced the US Navy aircraft to end its mission prematurely, one of the officials said.
Several unsafe interactions between Russian and US military forces have taken place near the Black Sea.
Russian, US and NATO forces operate in close proximity to one another in the area, particularly since Russia boosted its military presence in the region following its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The US Navy has also upped its presence in the area in recent years.
A Russian Su-30 fighter jet made an "unsafe" intercept of a US P-8A Poseidon aircraft in November while it was flying over the Black Sea.
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 Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon.
The last reported incident between US and Russian aircraft occurred in December in the skies over Syria, when US F-22s intercepted Russian attack jets after they flew over the de-confliction line intended to ensure safety.
The US jets fired warning flares during the intercept of the two Russian Su-25 close air support jets after they crossed the de-confliction line multiple times, US officials said.
The Russian Ministry of Defense issued a statement denying the incident took place west of the de-confliction line, accusing the F-22s of interfering with the flight of the Su-25s while they were operating along the western bank of the Euphrates River in the vicinity of the town of Mayadin.