A Russian Su-27 flanker jet has forced a US Lockheed EP-3 surveillance plane to abort its mission over the Black Sea on Monday.
The Pentagon claims that it was an “unsafe” intercept calling the incident “the latest example of Russian military activities disregarding international norms and agreements”
However the Russian MoD said it was a safe intercept: “The entire flight of the Su-27 was conducted in accordance with international regulations, and there were no emergency situations”.
RT reports: Moscow said that the plane was scrambled when as unidentified flying object was detected heading for the Russian border. The Su-27 approached the aircraft and identified it as a US Navy ЕР-3Е Aries II – a commonly used surveillance plane. The ministry said that the jet shepherded it “at a safe distance” before the spy plane changed course away from Russian airspace.
The US Navy released a contrasting account of the intercept, which it said lasted 2 hours 40 minutes.
“This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the Su-27 closing to within five feet [1.5 meters] and crossing directly through the EP-3’s flight path, causing the EP-3 to fly through the Su-27’s jet wash,” it said in a statement. It insisted that the American plane “did not provoke this Russian activity” and stated that its response “increased the risk of miscalculation and midair collisions.”
“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,” it added.
The US State Department has lashed out at Moscow, calling the incident “the latest example of Russian military activities disregarding international norms and agreements.” Denouncing the intercept, it urged Russia “to cease these unsafe actions.”