Navy releases five more videos of ‘unsafe’ intercept by Russian jet
The U.S. Navy on Wednesday released five more videos of an “unsafe” intercept by a Russian military jet, after some questioned the original video over not showing the Russian plane as close as the Navy alleged.
“These videos show the Russian Su-27 intercepting the EP-3 from a very close position, at the same altitude, and with an estimated wingtip-to-wingtip horizontal separation as little as five feet at times,” U.S. Navy Capt. Bill Ellis, commander of Task Force 67, said in a statement Wednesday. “For the Russian fighter aircraft to fly this close to the U.S. Navy aircraft, especially for extended periods of time, is unsafe.
“The smallest lapse of focus or error in airmanship by the intercepting aircrew can have disastrous consequences. There is no margin for error and insufficient time or space for our aircrews to take corrective action.”
The Navy first accused Russia on Monday of flying within five feet of the U.S. EP-3 Aries surveillance plane in international airspace over the Black Sea. The State Department later released a statement Monday night expressing “the highest level of concern” with the incident.
On Tuesday, the Navy released a video of the Russian Su-27 crossing in front of the U.S. EP-3.
The videos released Wednesday appear to be taken from a different angle than the Tuesday video and, as described in a Navy press release, “show the Russian Su-27 maneuvering around the U.S. Navy EP-3 in close proximity and in varying positions.”
The release adds that “while not shown in the released imagery,” the Russian jet made a hard, right-to-left turn from the EP-3’s right side, closing in on the U.S. plane at an “excessive” rate. That’s when the Russian plane came within five feet of the EP-3’s right wing tip, according to the release.
“The Russian Su-27 then proceeded to enter the flight path of the U.S. Navy EP-3, crossing within 10 feet and executing a sharp dive below, which resulted in violent turbulence for the U.S. EP-3 and its crewmembers,” the release continues.
Russian and U.S. aircraft have had unsafe encounters over the Black Sea before. In November, for instance, a Russian fighter jet cut in front of a U.S. Navy plane, causing the American aircraft to roll 15 degrees as it flew through “violent turbulence.”
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