BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:10 P.M.) – A U.S. military aircraft was intercepted by a Russian jet over the eastern Mediterranean on Sunday, marking the second time in a week that this has happened near the Syrian coastline.
According to reports, a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon was intercepted by a Russian Su-35 jet in the eastern Mediterranean after it was seen approaching Syrian airspace.
“On April 19, at about 3:00 pm Moscow time, an air target was detected by Russian airspace control means over neutral waters in the Mediterranean Sea, flying toward Russian military facilities in the Syrian Arab Republic,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
“After approaching the aircraft, the pilot of the Russian fighter identified the plane’s tail number and its status as an aircraft of the US Navy, and took it under escort,” the MoD added. After being tagged, the US reconnaissance aircraft was said to have changed course, allowing the Russian fighter plane to return to base.
— Last Defender (@LastDef) April 20, 2020
The U.S. Navy called the Russian Air Force’s move ‘unprofessional’ and condemned them for intercepting their aircraft for the second time in a week.
“On 19 April 2020, a US Navy P-8A aircraft flying in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea was intercepted twice by a Russian SU-35 over a period of 100 minutes. The first intercept was deemed safe and professional. The second intercept was determined to be unsafe and unprofessional due to the SU-35 a conducting high-speed, high-powered maneuver that decreased aircraft separation to within 25 feet, directly in front of the P-8A, exposing the US aircraft to wake turbulence and jet exhaust”, the US Sixth Fleet said late on Sunday.
According to the Navy, despite the fact that the Su-35 was operating in international airspace, the interaction was “irresponsible” and endangered the safety of both aircraft.
“In both cases, the US aircraft were operating consistent with international law and did not provoke this Russian activity”, the statement added.