MOSCOW - A Russian Su-27 jet has forced an American Lockheed EP-3 surveillance plane to abort its mission over the Black Sea. Moscow says the jet “took all necessary precautions,” while the Pentagon accused it of an “unsafe” intercept.
*“The entire flight of the Su-27 was conducted in accordance with international regulations, and there were no emergency situations,”* the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
Moscow said that the plane was scrambled when as unidentified flying object was detected heading for the Russian border. The Su-27 approached the aircraft and identified it as a US Navy ЕР-3Е Aries II – a commonly used surveillance plane. The ministry said that the jet shepherded it* “at a safe distance”*before the spy plane changed course away from Russian airspace.
The US Navy released a contrasting account of the intercept, which it said lasted 2 hours 40 minutes.
*“This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the Su-27 closing to within five feet [1.5 meters] and crossing directly through the EP-3’s flight path, causing the EP-3 to fly through the Su-27’s jet wash,”*it said in a statement. It insisted that the American plane *“did not provoke this Russian activity”* and stated that its response *“increased the risk of miscalculation and midair collisions.”*
*“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,”* it added.