TARTUS, Syria – A Russian Su-35 fighter intercepted a US military jet Poseidon P-8A over the Mediterranean Sea three times this Tuesday, the US Sixth Fleet said in a statement.
“While the Russian aircraft was operating in international airspace, this interaction was irresponsible,” the Sixth Fleet said in a statement.
“The U.S. aircraft was operating consistent with international law and did not provoke this Russian activity,” it said.
The Sixth Fleet said the Russian jet had made three intercepts, two of which it deemed to be safe. But it said one of the intercepts of the P-8A Poseidon involved a high-speed pass directly in front of the U.S. aircraft that produced wake turbulence and put our pilots and crew at risk.
The P-8A was intercepted by a Russian SU-35 “three times over the course of 175 minutes” over the Mediterranean Sea, the Navy’s Sixth Fleet said in a statement. While “the first and third interactions were deemed safe” the second “was determined to be unsafe due to the SU-35 conducting a high-speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, which put our pilots and crew at risk.”
Russia’s Ministry of Defence said it had scrambled a Sukhoi Su-35 jet from its air base in Syria to intercept the U.S. plane which it said had been approaching Russia’s Tartus naval facility on the Syrian coast, the RIA news agency reported on Wednesday.
Moscow denied its aircraft had acted irresponsibly, saying it had stayed at a safe distance and had returned to its base after the U.S. aircraft changed course.
The Navy statement did not disclose where over the Mediterranean Sea the interaction occurred, but the closest Russian military aircraft to that body of water are stationed in western Syria.
It is not known whether there have been previous Russian intercepts of American reconnaissance aircraft over the Mediterranean because most intercepts are safe.