Russian jet flies just five feet from U.S. Navy place in 'unsafe' intercept

Intercepts between the two militaries has seen an uptick in recent years

Matt Saintsing
January 29, 2018 - 3:06 pm

Photo by Tech Sgt. Michelle Larche


A Russian fighter jet engaged in an “unsafe” intercept of a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft in the skies over the Baltic Sea, U.S. Naval Forces Europe said on Monday; the latest in a string of recent incidents involving military aircraft from the two powers.  

The Russian Su-27 came within five feet of a U.S. EP-3 Aries while it was flying in international airspace, forcing an abrupt and premature end to the mission.

“This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the SU-27 closing to within five feet and crossing directly through the EP-3’s flight path, causing the EP-3 to fly through the SU-27’s jet wash,” U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa said in a statement.

“The duration of the intercept lasted two hours and 40 minutes.”

Multiple interactions between Russian and US military forces have taken place near and around the Black Sea. Russian, U.S., and NATO air forces operate often in close proximity in this area, especially since Russia upped its military footprint in the region following its 2014 military operations in eastern Ukraine.

“The Russian military is within its right to operate within international airspace, but they must behave within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent incidents,” the statement reads.

“The U.S. aircraft was operating in accordance with international law and did not provoke this Russian activity.”

Intercepts between the two militaries has seen an uptick in recent years as the U.S. and Russian militaries have competing interests overlapping several regions.

The last incident between American and Russian military aircraft occurred in December 2017 over Syria when U.S. F-22s intercepted Russian jets after they crossed the de-confliction line, an agreed upon area to ensure safety of all parties in the skies over the congested Syrian airspace.

The F-22s fired warning flared during that intercept.