A Russian fighter intercepted a Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft three times over the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday with two of the passes deemed unsafe, Navy officials said.
A Sukhoi Su-35 flew at high speed directly in front of the Poseidon on the second pass, which put the pilot and crew at risk, the Navy said in a statement.
“While the Russian aircraft was operating in international airspace, this interaction was irresponsible,” the 6th Fleet statement said. “We expect them to behave within international standards set to ensure safety and to prevent incidents. Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and potential for midair collisions.”
The U.S. surveillance aircraft was operating consistent with international law and did not provoke the Russian pilot, who intercepted the Poseidon three times over about three hours, the Navy said.
It was not clear from the statement where exactly the incident happened, but Su-35 air-superiority fighters have been operating out of the Russian air base of Khmeimim in western Syria since 2016.
It was the latest incident of its kind between Russian jets and U.S. planes or its allies over the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and Atlantic Ocean. American and NATO officials have said repeatedly that the Russians engage in unpredictable maneuvers that include flying without transponders turned on, which the Russians have denied.