The U.S. Navy released five more videos Wednesday of a recent “unsafe” intercept by a Russian fighter.
A Russian Su-27 fighter jet intercepted a Navy EP-3 surveillance aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea, according to the Pentagon. The video of the intercept released Tuesday shows the Russian jet tearing past the American plane at close range, with the fighter coming within 5 feet at times.
The new videos “show the Russian Sukhoi Su-27 intercepting the EP-3 from a very close position, at the same altitude, and with an estimated wingtip-to-wingtip horizontal separation as little as five feet at times,” Navy Capt. Bill Ellis, commander of Task Force 67, said in a statement accompanying the footage. “For the Russian fighter aircraft to fly this close to the U.S. Navy aircraft, especially for extended periods of time, is unsafe. The smallest lapse of focus or error in airmanship by the intercepting aircrew can have disastrous consequences. There is no margin for error and insufficient time or space for our aircrews to take corrective action.”
The Navy first accused Russia of engaging in “unsafe” behavior Monday, with the Department of State expressing “the highest level of concern.”
According to the military but not shown in the videos, the Russian fighter “executed a hard right-to-left turn” from the right side of the American aircraft “with an excessive closure rate and came within five feet of the EP-3’s right wingtip.” The Russian jet then crossed in front of the EP-3 at a distance of less than 10 feet, “executing a sharp dive below, which resulted in violent turbulence for the U.S. EP-3 and its crewmembers.”
Intercepts by Russian and Chinese fighters are extremely common and have endangered American airmen on numerous occasions over the years.
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