The Navy says a Russian fighter came within five feet of a P-8 Poseidon long-range patrol aircraft over the Mediterranean last week in one of three “unprofessional” intercepts. As tensions increase over the standoff in Ukraine, military traffic and interaction in the area have naturally increased, and the intercepts occurred as the Russian Navy conducted large-scale exercises in the eastern Mediterranean. “The U.S. flight crews were flying in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea at the time of these intercepts,” DOD spokesman Capt. Mike Kafka said in a statement.
The Navy has complained to the Russians about the incidents but buzzing U.S. aircraft is a common occurrence by Russian fighters. “While no one was hurt, interactions such as these could result in miscalculations and mistakes that lead to more dangerous outcomes,” Kafka said. “The U.S. will continue to operate safely, professionally and consistent with international law in international waters and airspace. We expect Russia to do the same.”