PENSACOLA, Fla. — Two Russian Su-35BM jets flew very close off both wings of a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft over international waters on Tuesday in an action the U.S. naval forces deemed was “unsafe and unprofessional”.
Assigned to the U.S. 6th fleet, the P-8A aircraft was on a flight over the Eastern Mediterranean before it was intercepted by the two Russian aircraft. The Navy added that this was the third “unsafe interaction” following two similar incidents over the same area in April.
The Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-35s, each clutching four advanced missiles, pulled within a few feet of the wing tip of the P-8A. The Russian twin-engine, single seat jets restricted the P-8As flight for 64 minutes.
“The intercept was determined to be unsafe and unprofessional due to the Russian pilots taking close station on each wing of the P-8A simultaneously, restricting the P-8A’s ability to safely maneuver,” The U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa public affairs said late Tuesday.
The wording of the Navy’s public statement calls attention to the continued endangerment by the Russian aircraft. The 6th Fleet is worried the continued aircraft bullying will “increase the potential for midair collisions”.
“The unnecessary actions of the Russian SU-35 pilots were inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules, and jeopardized the safety of flight of both aircraft,” The 6th Fleet added. “We expect them to operate within international standards set to ensure safety and to prevent incidents.”
The Poseidon, which began its operational history in 2012, is a modified Boeing 737-800 jet. Armed with torpedoes, it serves as an anti-surface, anti-submarine warfare.
(Charles A. Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)