Russian jet flies within 15 feet of US spy plane

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A Russian fighter jet intercepted a U.S. reconnaissance plane over the Black Sea this week in an "unsafe" manner, according to the Pentagon, coming within 15 feet of the American aircraft.

"On January 25, 2016, a U.S. RC-135U flying a routine route in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 in an unsafe and unprofessional manner," said Army Lt. Col. Michelle L. Baldanza, a Defense spokeswoman. 

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"Aircraft intercepts are not unusual, but are normally routine events. In this case the intercept was not routine, and the Russian pilot acted in an unprofessional manner that put both the American flight crew and himself at risk," she added. "We have addressed our concerns on this matter appropriately." 

U.S. officials told CNN that the Russian jet flew within 15 feet of the U.S. aircraft. A U.S. military official told the network that the jet flew along the right side of the U.S. plane then turned away in a maneuver that had an adverse effect on the "controllability of the U.S. aircraft." 

The official did not know if the Russian aircraft was armed at the time and said the incident occurred more than 40 miles from the Russian coast.

There were two previous similar encounters in 2014 with the same kinds of U.S. and Russian aircraft.

In one of those incidents, a Russian Su-27 flew within 100 feet of the nose of the U.S. Air Force RC-135U over the Sea of Okhotsk between Russia and Japan, which an official told CNN was "one of the most dangerous close passes in decades" and said the Russian jet "put the lives of the U.S. crew in jeopardy."

During the encounter, the Russian aircraft turned and "showed its belly" to the U.S. crew so they could see it was armed with missiles.