Home » Aviation » Updated: Russian Fighter Came Within 10 Ft. of Navy Surveillance Plane Over Black Sea


Updated: Russian Fighter Came Within 10 Ft. of Navy Surveillance Plane Over Black Sea

P-8A Poseidon. US Navy Photo

P-8A Poseidon. US Navy Photo

This post has been updated with additional information on U.S. P-8A deployments to Europe.

A Russian fighter has come within 10 feet of a Navy surveillance flight over the Black Sea on Wednesday, defense officials told USNI News.
The incident between the Navy P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft and a Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker occurred at about 11:20 A.M. local time in international airspace over the Black Sea, according to a statement provided to USNI News.

“During the intercept, which lasted approximately 19 minutes, the Su-27 initially maintained a 30-foot separation distance then closed to within 10 feet of the P-8A, which is considered unsafe and unprofessional,” read the statement.
“We have deep concerns when there is an unsafe maneuver. These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident which results in serious injury or death.

Russian Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker Righter

Russian Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker Fighter

P-8As arrived in the region and began operating last month, a Navy official told USNI News on Wednesday. The aircraft are among the Navy’s newest anti-submarine warfare (ASW) platforms. The P-8A patrols aircraft come as the Russian Navy has expanded its submarine presence in the Black Sea. Specifically, the Russians have based four of Improved Kilo-class (Varshavyanka-class or Project 636) diesel-electric submarines in the Black Sea.

Since 2014, Russia and NATO forces have had several incidents in the Baltic and the Black Seas between aircraft and ships.

In 2014 a Russian Sukhoi SU-24 Fencer made repeated passes over USSDonald Cook (DDG-75), a ballistic missile destroyer, while it was conducting operations in the Black Sea.

Later that year, the Canadian frigate HMCS Toronto was buzzed by Su-23 Fencers operating in the Black Sea.
In January, another Flanker conducted an intercept of a U.S. Air Force RC-135U Combat Sent electronic surveillance aircraft over the Black Sea.

For their part, Russian officials have complained of the uptick in U.S. surveillance flights since 2014.

“US RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft carry out flights almost daily,” Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev, commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force, said in late 2014.
“In 2014, more than 140 RC-135 flights have taken place compared to 22 flights in 2013.”

The following is the complete Sept. 7, 2016 statement from the Pentagon on the incident.

At approximately 11:20 a.m. on Sept. 7 a Russian SU-27 Flanker made an unsafe close-range intercept of a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon while it conducted routine operations in international airspace over the Black Sea. During the intercept, which lasted approximately 19 minutes, the SU-27 initially maintained a 30 foot separation distance then closed to within 10 feet of the P-8A, which is considered unsafe and unprofessional.

U.S. Navy aircraft and ships routinely interact with Russian units in the area and most interactions are safe and professional. However, we have deep concerns when there is an unsafe maneuver. These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident which results in serious injury or death.

 

  • CharleyA

    30 feet, let alone 10 is “unprofessional?” It’s more than reckless. Something tells me that Mr. Putin, et al have little respect for Mr. Obama.

    • PolicyWonk

      Disrespect for POTUS’s has been a long standing thing on the part of potential adversaries. For example, the Chinese knocked one of our aircraft out of the sky under George W Bush (who was so angry, he oversaw the largest giveaway of dual-use technologies in world history – to the Communist Chinese).

      • Marcd30319

        I was expecting Eastern European trolls to flood this message board, but all we got is a home-grown version trotting out another blame Bush screed. Ho-hum!

        • arslonga vitabrevis

          Budget cuts, they don’t troll unless they get paid.

          • Marcd30319

            As George Soros would say, the stipend is in the mail.

        • sferrin

          His handle should have told you all you need to know. Anybody who classifies themselves as a “wonk” probably isn’t one.

      • CharleyA

        That was a singular act for the most part (at the time.) These recent intercepts over the Baltic and elsewhere illustrate a pattern of behavior.

    • KenPrescott

      “Unprofessional” is diplospeak for “your pilot acted like a drunken idiot.”

      • JCDavis

        Hardly. This is obviously the policy now. And if we don’t back down, It will get worse.

        • sferrin

          I realize cowardice is the best policy in some circles but not in the real world.

          • JCDavis

            Tell it to the guys on these spy planes who are playing a real game of Russian roulette.

          • sferrin

            No, I was telling you. You’re the one advocating we run back home with our tail between our legs.

          • On Dre

            JCDavis those guys AND women know what they are doing. So did the Russian pilot. And while you bitch and whine both set of aviators have new pics of each others aircraft posted on their workplace walls and are enjoying retelling the stories.

        • KenPrescott

          Whatever Pooty-Poot’s troll factory is paying you, they’re getting ripped off. Assuming, of course, that you’re not posting on your mother’s basement…and on her AOL account.

    • habzz

      No one in their right mind has respect for obama

    • JCDavis

      The whole concept of “professionalism” among men flying killing machines is absurd. The real term for what these pilots did was “exercising restraint.” They were probably just itching to pull the trigger and kill everyone on our spy plane, but they didn’t.

      • sferrin

        Jesus, what are you twelve?

        • JCDavis

          You think these are passenger aircraft, sferrin? These Russian fighters are designed to kill people. And they will eventually kill everyone on our spy plane just as the North Koreans did in 1969. The Russians are presently showing restraint, but as Obama repeatedly provokes them, eventually they will lose patience.

          • TJ

            Really in international airspace? Not a chance. Yes they will likely one day collide during an aggressive intercept just like the Chinese Navy F-8 Finback pilot did with the US NAVY EP-3E but the are not going to shoot an aircraft down in international airspace.

          • sferrin

            Ah, the “triple-down on stupid” approach. Not gonna work.

  • DaSaint

    Time for someone to light up one of these jokers with a guidance radar…

    • sferrin

      I guess the next time a Russian bomber wanders into the Western Hemisphere we should just shoot it down eh? Genius.

      • DaSaint

        I’m genius enough to know the difference between illuminating a target and shooting one down. And I think you know the difference too. Now before you get all twisted, I’m also genius enough to know that the P8 has no AAW targeting radar, so my point was philosophical, not literal.
        The point is, if you need it spelled out, that these ‘incidents’ are happening with increasing frequency, not only with Russia, but in the Persian Gulf, and at some point, a different approach may be needed to convey the risks involved. And my example is just one of those possible actions.
        And yes, I know there are ramifications for ‘lighting someone up’ with a targeting radar, but there are also risks of running a craft at full speed at another, and depending on both reflexes and systems to work well enough that an error can’t be made with irreversible consequences.

        Understood?

  • Christopher Brennan

    I’m assuming you meant “guided-missile destroyer” and not “ballistic-missile destroyer”…..

  • Vitaly

    Why should he have any respect to your O.B.? Poseidon was intercepted not near the Mexican gulf…

    • Mykola Potytorsky

      international waters is still international waters-dyrak

    • sferrin

      Pretty sure you’d be screaming bloody murder if we did that to every Tu-95 or Blackjack that decided to wander into the Western Hemisphere.

  • Ed L

    Wonder how many Russian SAM sites were also tracking the P-8 as an exercise.

  • George Kafantaris

    Russia and Iran can’t quite make it in a civilized world, so they’re looking to start something — perhaps to boost the price of oil — their singular asset. We’re on to them, and for sometime now, but our patience is running thin.

  • sferrin

    Just Russia acting like clowns. Must be Tuesday.

  • hang3xc

    So Iran and Russia keep pushing, yet US does not push back… weak, Obama

    • JCDavis

      It’s the US pushing, not Russia. The guys on that spy plane are just lucky to be alive. If they do this again, they are obviously suicidal.

      • sferrin

        What part of “international airspace” is beyond your comprehension?

        • JCDavis

          It’s like our ships passing through Iranian waters even though we haven’t signed the treaty that permits that. Iranian boats harass our ships, but that’s all they can do. And when Russia decides to take down one of our spy planes off their coast, what will we do about it? I’ll tell you: There will be a lot of crying by the Pentagon and gnashing of teeth in Congress, but when it comes down to it, we live by the law of the jungle, and if we’re not the biggest and meanest in the area, we will back down. If we don’t have the might, we don’t have the right.

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            Reminds me of Russian bombers carrying a nuclear weapons payload towards Irish air space and the busiest international air corridor on Earth.

          • JCDavis

            Combine a buildup of forces on a country’s borders with probing by aircraft with transponders off, and you will get this sort of response, or worse.

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            What Irish forces buildup?

          • JCDavis

            Don’t play stupid.

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            “Play stupid”

            Listen to yourself komrade!

            Again, what Irish forces buildup necessitated your colleagues causing planes into & out of Ireland to scatter?
            Not very professional.

          • JCDavis

            Ah, so you’re not playing.

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            No answer Boris?

            Nothing on Ireland’s military aggression towards the motherland?
            As a defence for your colleagues unprofessionalism…. well it didn’t go well.
            When you don’t have evil old amerika to pin it on, you are lost.

            Regards to everyone in the St Petersburg factory my little clicking soldier!

          • sferrin

            How are they remotely similar? And how do you know Russian bombers were carrying nuclear weapons?

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            Radio intercepts from Norway before the planes left their air space and passed down the north Atlantic to do a lap around Ireland.

            There was a nuclear payload on board one of the two bombers but it was not active.

            Can’t post links here, but if you google for it….. Irish examiner, February 12th 2015.
            And then again on March 3rd 2015

            The Irish corridor is the busiest international route in the world, pretty much every EMEA flight to North America will pass over…. these “training runs” at us require the Irish Aviation Authority to scramble all planes in the sky to divert to alternate vectors until these clowns vacate the area.
            It causes major disruption and is completely uncalled for.

          • sferrin

            Interesting if true. Of course all that really proves is that Russia said they did, not that they actually did. (I could see them doing that just to troll the West.)

          • TJ

            It is called wild media speculation in regards to nuclear weapons. Not even Russia is silly enough to go flying with a nuclear weapon armed or not. Think of the consequences if the aircraft crashed? There is absolutely no requirement to fly training mission with nuclear weapons.

            Also the Russians are not flying Norwegian airspace. They would have to be inside the 12 nautical mile limit. They are flying in international airspace. What the Russian conduct is simulated launch procedures using their communications packages. They go through the drills for launching air launched cruise missiles. There is no requirement or need to carry a nuclear weapon in order to do this. The days of flying strategic bombers with nuclear weapons is long since over. Just look at the mishaps that have occurred over the years. No country not even Russia wants such a mishap to take place. Also you have to consider what would happen if during such a mission a malfunction forced the bomber to seek an emergency landing.

            In the past they have used these mission to carry conventional launched cruise missiles and then on the return route launch them onto Russian ranges. The claims of carrying nuclear weapons is just ridiculous spin.

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            Must have been the IAA’s imagination then.

            Silly us!

          • TJ

            Huh? What’s IAA’s imagination got to do with it? Of course the Russian bombers came down the west coast of Ireland but they were never in sovereign national airspace. They would have to have been inside the 12 nautical mile limit and would have been escorted out by RAF Typhoons as per the agreement with Ireland. The Russian bombers and tankers were in the Flight Information Regions which is international airspace.

          • sferrin

            Apparently you still don’t know what “international airspace” means.

        • Cocidius

          What’s incomprehensible to me is your inability to debate anything with anyone without resorting to insults.

          • sferrin

            Clearly I was spot on in this case. The poster in question followed up with a lengthy post further demonstrating their lack of comprehension of the term, “international airspace”.

      • TJ

        Why? They are flying in international airspace. They would have to be inside the 12 nautical mile limit for Russian forces to take any action against them. What part of international airspace don’t you understand? The US and other nations have been flying surveillance missions in the Black Sea for decades.

      • hang3xc

        It’s international airspace.

        • JCDavis

          It’s touching that some think you can’t die in international airspace.

          • hang3xc

            Where did I say that?

      • Frank

        Do you not know or realize that the Russians do the same thing? The Russians have resumed their “probing” of CONUS responses and systems along Alaska and the West Coast in recent years by sending long-range bombers across the Pacific Ocean to just short of the US ADIZ before turning back. Tit-for-Tat, is all this is, except the Russians are being more provocative in how close they’re getting to US assets. If they keep it up, one of these days there will be an accident, intentional or not, and we’ll see what the Russians are really up to (i.e.: waiting for a “provocation” or an excuse to engage the US in open conflict). And, for years, is has been well-known that the Russians focus on US strategic submarine bases such as Kings Bay, GA and Bangor, WA by parking intelligence collection ships and or subs off of the respective coasts.

        • JCDavis

          The difference is, the US and NATO have been marching to the east and building up on Russia’s border. After the destruction of Libya, the arming of terrorists in Syria, and the CIA coup in Ukraine, Putin woke up to the reality that Obama is a neocon and the Wolfowitz Doctrine is still in play. They are now resisting us, and thus both Russia and Europe know that war is coming, even if Americans sill live in a unreal world, fed a steady diet of anti-Russia propaganda.

          • On Dre

            “CIA coup in Ukraine, Putin woke up to the reality that Obama is a neocon and the Wolfowitz Doctrine is still in play”
            God shut up.

  • habzz

    So the US is provoking Russia China Syria Libya Brazil Venezuela Yemen and Iran but it’s Russia we need to fear ? What a load of BS.

  • Charles Haas

    Couple of mistakes here, besides the ballistic missile destroyer thing, they misidetified the Fencer as the Su-23 when it should be Su-24.

    • Ed L

      That photo could be one from the PAO stock. Not one of the actual Aircraft involved.

  • Dennis Smith

    Tell Donald Trump to thank Putin for the escort! Great again?

  • JCDavis

    Obama has been incredibly belligerent in eastern Europe, but what would happen if Russia actually shot down one of these spy planes approaching its territory with its transponder off? Would Obama do more than Nixon did when a similar spy plane was shot down by North Korea, killing 31 Americans? Nixon did nothing back then, and Obama strikes me as another Nixon. Nixon was willing to kill poor farmers by the millions, but he didn’t want to tangle with a real opponent. Ironically, even the poor farmers beat him.

  • Chris Schmidt

    And what are we doing flying over the Black Sea?? What do we have to do there??
    They can be glad that they have not been shut down.
    If the Russians or any Other Nation would fly Spy planes along our borders we would be all upset.

    They cant do this. So why are we doing this???
    By the way spying with a Plane or ship in the Persion Gulf is a little bit outdated and to expensive.
    Today you hack systems when you want to know something.
    The saved Money can then go in the Health Care System and Pension Funds , because that’s where it is really needed.
    Old habits die Hard and we cling on to outdated methods.
    Chris

    • JCDavis

      This wasn’t spying, this was provoking. Obama is in full Cold War mode and he’s probably anxious to bomb one more country before his time is up and make it an even 8 countries bombed in 8 years–twice as many as Bush.

    • John Locke

      “If the Russians or any Other Nation would fly Spy planes along our borders we would be all upset.”

      http://www DOT cnn DOT com/2015/07/23/politics/us-russian-bombers-july-4-intercept/

  • RobM1981

    I love it when we call Putin or his forces “unprofessional.”

    Guys, this is exactly how pros actually act.

    No laws were broken. This was international air space. They can get even closer.

    Because that’s what pros do – particularly when they know that the guy they are facing, Barack Obama, is an amateur with no stomach for this kind of thing.

    • sferrin

      I love it when we call Putin or his forces “unprofessional.”

      Guys, this is exactly how pros actually act.


      You obviously don’t know what a “pro” is.

  • Olesalt

    Very weak response IF no real US action takes place in near future. Adversaries like Russia will keep on testing US responses. The Iranians will do the same & the Chinese will follow same pattern of annoying the US & test the USN USAF reactions. Timings of these annoying & dangerous Russian manoeuvres are expected & perhaps more to come as Prez Obama is leaving office soon, & appears focusing of his legacy.

    • John Locke

      Well then by your logic the U.S. has always been weak because these provocations, by both sides, happen all the time and have been going on since the end of WWII.

  • OLDNAVYVET

    “EscalateTensions!” It’s just more in your face crap that they do, knowing that there will be no response.

  • ulises velez

    NOW THE RUSSIANS STARTED TO PROVED ONE INCIDENT IN INTERNATIONAL AIRSPACE. SIMILAR TO THE SHOT-DOWN OF K-007-SOUTH-KOREAN-AIRLINES. ON SEPTEMBER,1,1983.

  • John B. Morgen

    A passive position does not keep your enemies outside from the front door, instead it allows them inside your house to run amuck. The Russians only respect strength, and not weakness or appeasement from their neighbors. Don’t follow the late British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s foreign policy of appeasement because ineptness is not transparent—it shows quite well to others.

  • Jesus Hussein Chirst™

    “We have deep concerns when there is an unsafe maneuver.”

    Jesus Hussein Christ, how many more times these idiots going to repeat this line? Do something about it already. You don’t sound very smart of confident repeating this line.

    • JCDavis

      The Pentagon has been full of idiots for a very long time. Nowadays they pretend they are school crossing guards instead of pathological killers.

    • KenPrescott

      This was diplospeak.

      “We have deep concerns when there is an unsafe maneuver” translates to “Your drunken pig-fornicating pilot shouldn’t be trusted with anything sharper than a rubber ball, and he should only be allowed to use the rubber ball under adult supervision.”

  • searchlight

    next time tail the spy plane with F22s

    • Ed L

      or put a thick black piece of pipe about the size of a 25mm sticking out of the tail.

  • searchlight

    The people of the world love Russians its the looney tune leaders that we cant stand

    • On Dre

      Yes!

    • Don Bacon

      That Russian “looney leader” has been taking the US leader to the cleaners.

      • sferrin

        You’re probably due for a new set of pom-poms after wearing your current pair out. (And taking Obama to the cleaners is nothing to write home about. Would be like bragging about beating up the window-licker in grade-school.)

  • Connecticut

    They’re so tough with unarmed targets.

  • Connecticut

    The USA does it constantly, the USA also exercises its right of innocent passage through “Russian” Crimean territorial waters every year just to make it clear to the Russians what our understanding of the law of the sea is. In this way there is less likelihood of an accident, because everyone knows what everyone thinks. This has gone on since the 1940s or 50s, by both sides. Shoot the plane down and we know what they think. They have not done it yet, but ten feet can cause an accident via simple atmospheric buffeting, think turbulence. We can’t make the Russians NOT want a war. We have no choice but to oblige them if they start shooting. If they think they want a war, I suspect they’re overconfident (or, in the American(?) euphemism, “they have another think coming”).

    • JCDavis

      The right of innocent passage? Too bad the US didn’t sign the treaty that codified it.

      • Connecticut

        The right of innocent passage is Common Law. It existed for centuries before the UN wrote it down, read Oliver Wendell Holmes. Countries such as Russia, China, Korea and others harass our ships and planes, against the spirit and intent of the treaty they signed, and did it before and after the piece of paper got fancy words printed on it. The USA abides by treaties it signs, there are many interest groups and lawyers who will push it through the courts if we don’t, and it will curtail our sovereignty, but the aforementioned countries do not abide by treaties they sign. Its just a show for publicity, pageantry and prestige. Why give it to them? We can always sign in the future if they ever show a long term and convincing pattern of changing their behavior. Otherwise, it’s just more legal flotsam and jetsam to add to the logjam.

    • Don Bacon

      Innocent passage has to be innocent and not provocative, and it’s obviously the affected nation which decides what’s provocative.
      UNCLOS, Article 19
      Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State.

      • sferrin

        “Innocent passage” does not apply to I-N-T-E-R-N-A-T-I-O-N-A-L airspace.

        • Don Bacon

          “The USA does it constantly, the USA also exercises its right of innocent
          passage through “Russian” Crimean territorial waters every year just to
          make it clear to the Russians what our understanding of the law of the
          sea is.”

  • vincedc

    What in the world is a P-8 doing in the Black Sea? Talk about a waste of resources.

    • Don Bacon

      Provoking Russia, of course, with its transponders off.

      • sferrin

        Provide evidence the transponders were off please.

        • Don Bacon

          They always fly with transponders off on these missions, so provide evidence that they were on.

  • The Plague

    Glad to see the Poseidon already put to use in the BTO.

  • Why don’t we have F-18’s from the CVN in the Med escorting these if the planes are snooping just out of the main russian bases?

  • “Unprofessional”?
    Provoke a war is it? We don’t wanna a war thankyou.
    They could have their flight just off to point Loma next time, so they’ll not meet any unprfessional Su-27.
    Thanks

  • Sally

    This is not new for any side. The U.S. does the same thing . The propaganda machine doesn’t report the incidents. The simple minded need to be stirred up .,

  • Curtis Conway

    Uh HUH . . . I wonder what they are after? “These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident which results in serious injury or death.”