Russian jet flies within 5 feet of US Navy plane

Russian jet flies within 5 feet of US Navy plane
© Getty

A Russian military jet got within five feet of a U.S. Navy surveillance plane flying over the Black Sea on Monday, U.S. Naval Forces Europe said.

The unsafe intercept by a Russian SU-27 fighter plane happened while a U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries was flying in international airspace, according to the Navy.

"This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the SU-27 closing to within five feet and crossing directly through the EP-3’s flight path, causing the EP-3 to fly through the SU-27’s jet wash,"  Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze, spokeswoman for U.S. Naval Forces Europe, said in a statement.

The incident, which was first reported by CNN, lasted two hours and 40 minutes, Kunze said.

The U.S. aircraft was operating in accordance with international law and "did not provoke" the Russians, Kunze added.

"The Russian military is within its right to operate within international airspace, but they must behave within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent incidents, including the 1972 Agreement for the Prevention of Incidents on and Over the High Seas (INCSEA)," she said. "Unsafe actions‎ increase the risk of miscalculation and midair collisions."

The Black Sea is often the site of unsafe encounters between Russian and U.S. aircraft.

In one particularly dramatic incident in November, a Russian fighter jet cut in front of a Navy surveillance plane, causing it to roll amid “violent turbulence.”

U.S. and Russian planes have also had several encounters over Syria, including a December incident in which U.S. F-22s fired warning flares.

The Air Force also recently released footage of “safe and standard” intercepts over the Baltic Sea. In those cases, the Air Force said, U.S. F-15s intercepted Russian jets because they were not broadcasting the appropriate codes required by air traffic control and had no flight plan on file.

— Updated at 1:49 p.m.