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Pentagon: Russian Jet Makes ‘Unsafe’ Intercept of US Plane


FILE - In this image released by the U.S. Air Force, a U.S. RC-135U flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, is intercepted by a Russian SU-27 Flanker, June 19, 2017. A Russian jet made an "unsafe" intercept of an American reconnaissance plane flying in international airspace over the Black Sea, Nov. 5, 2018, Pentagon officials said.

A Russian jet made an "unsafe" intercept of an American reconnaissance plane flying in international airspace over the Black Sea Monday, Pentagon officials said.

The Russian SU-27 jet failed to establish radio contact and made two “really close” passes before engaging afterburners that shook the entire American EP-3 Aries, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told reporters.

“There’s just absolutely no reason for this type of behavior,” he said.

The American plane was conducting a routine mission in international airspace when the Russian plane “came out of nowhere,” Pahon added.

In a press release, the U.S. Navy said the actions were “irresponsible” and put the pilots and crew “at risk.”

“We expect them [Russian pilots] to behave within international standards set to ensure safety and to prevent incidents,” the Navy added.

The Russian embassy in Washington tweeted that the Russian crew was "preventing a violation of Russian airspace and followed all necessary safety procedures."

The last time a Russian military aircraft performed an unsafe intercept over the Black Sea was in January, when another SU-27 jet came within two meters of a U.S. Navy surveillance plane.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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