The Pentagon has released footage of a Russian air force Su-27 flying dangerously close — within five feet at one point — of a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft on Monday. (This video released by the Pentagon does not show the instance within five feet of proximity.)
Pentagon spokeswoman Capt. Pamela Kunze said contact between the two aircraft lasted for two and a half hours while the Russian SU-27 jet crossed directly in front of the US plane’s flight path on at least one occasion.
“Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and midair collisions,” Kunze said, noting that Russia has a right to fly planes in international airspace but “must behave within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent incidents.”
“While the U.S. aircraft was operating under international law, the Russian side was flagrantly violating existing agreements and international law, in this case the 1972 Agreement for the Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas (INCSEA),” the U.S. State Department said of the incident.
“This is but the latest example of Russian military activities disregarding international norms and agreements. We call on Russia to cease these unsafe actions that increase the risk of miscalculation, danger to aircrew on both sides, and midair collisions,” the statement said.
Russia has been stepping up its activities in the Baltic and Black seas, as well as the Arctic and North Atlantic — particularly submarine patrols.
(Analyst comment: We cover this in the 1 February edition of the Strategic Intelligence Summary — what’s Russia’s end game using tactics like this. Subscribe here. — JD)