Officials with the U.S. Navy say Russian pilots made an unsafe intercept of a U.S. surveillance aircraft that was flying over international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea for the third time in the last two months.
According to a statement released by the Navy on Tuesday, the 6th Fleet said two Russian SU-35 fighters simultaneously flew near the wings of a U.S. P-8A Poseidon plane in an "unsafe and unprofessional" manner.
Video released by the U.S. military showed the Russian aircraft flying close to the wings of the American surveillance plane.
"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 Navy said in its statement.
The encounter lasted around 65 minutes while the American aircraft was flying over the Mediterranean Sea. The incident comes after Russian pilots buzzed two U.S. planes operating in the same region back in April. In both those incidents, defense officials said Russian jets came within 25 feet of the American planes.
"While the Russian aircraft was operating in international airspace, this interaction was irresponsible. We expect them to operate within international standards set to ensure safety and to prevent incidents, including the 1972 Agreement for the Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas (INCSEA). Actions like these increase the potential for midair collisions," the statement added.
The incident comes shortly after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 'Open Skies' treaty, which is meant to prevent an accidental war with another country.
Photo: U.S. Navy