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U.S.: Russian Warplane Flies Within 2 Meters Of Navy Jet

A U.S. Navy EP-3 is shown flying over an unknown location.
A U.S. Navy EP-3 is shown flying over an unknown location.

A Russian warplane has flown within 2 meters of a U.S. surveillance plane in international airspace over the Black Sea, the U.S. Navy says.

The U.S. EP-3 Aries II surveillance plane ended its mission prematurely after the incident on January 29, a U.S. Navy statement said.

"The duration of the intercept lasted two hours and 40 minutes," the statement said, adding that the EP-3 was forced to fly through the Russian plane's jet wash.

The Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement saying that an Su-27 fighter had "intercepted a U.S. EP-3E Aries II electronic warfare and reconnaissance aircraft."

Moscow said that "all security precautions" had been observed during the encounter.

The U.S. Navy statement said Russian planes "must behave within international standards to ensure safety and prevent incidents."

"Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and midair collisions," it added.

There have been numerous close encounters between Russian and NATO aircraft in recent years over the Black Sea, the Baltic region, Syria, and elsewhere.

Russian and NATO-member aircraft have operated in close proximity in the Black Sea after Russia boosted its military presence in the region following Moscow's 2014 seizure of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Last November, U.S. officials reported a Russian Su-30 fighter had made an "unsafe" intercept of a U.S. Navy P8-A Poseidon in the region. In that incident, the Russian aircraft crossed in front of the U.S. plane, forcing the U.S. plane through its jet wash and causing "a 15-degree roll and violent turbulence," U.S. officials said.

In April 2014, two Russian fighters buzzed a U.S. guided-missile destroyer. U.S. European Command at the time expressed "deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers."

With reporting by CNN, USNI News, and TASS