Home » Foreign Forces » Moscow Claimed U.S. Navy P-8A Was Flying Toward Russian Airspace Before Black Sea Intercept


Moscow Claimed U.S. Navy P-8A Was Flying Toward Russian Airspace Before Black Sea Intercept

U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon (top)
Sukhoi Su-30 (bottom)

Moscow officials say a U.S. military aircraft intercepted by a Russian fighter over the Black Sea, in a manner the Pentagon said was unsafe, was headed for Russian airspace. 

The U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine warfare aircraft, based out of Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, was intercepted by a Russian Su-30 Flanker fighter jet on Nov. 25.

Russian media accounts claim the Poseidon surveillance aircraft was approaching the Russian coastline at a high rate of speed and only changed course after being intercepted by the Su-30.

“On November 25, Russian means of monitoring airspace spotted an air target over an international area of the Black Sea that was approaching the state border at a high speed. A Sukhoi-30 jet of the Southern Military District’s air defense was ordered into the air for interception,” read a government statement published by the Russian newswire TASS.
“The Russian fighter approached the air target and identified it as a US reconnaissance plane P-8A Poseidon.”

The Poseidon, is a modified version of the Boeing 737-800ERX, and has a top airspeed of about 564 miles per hour, according to the Navy. The Flanker can reportedly reach Mach 2.

The Su-30 crossed within 50 feet, of the Poseidon’s path, moving from right to left and causing the Navy aircraft to fly through the Russian aircraft’s jet wash. The Poseidon endured violent turbulence, but recovered and continued on its mission, ultimately safely landing back at Sigonella, a Navy spokesperson told USNI News.

Encounters between U.S. surveillance aircraft and Russian fighter jets, and have become more frequent following the Russian 2014 forced annexation of Crimea and Moscow exerting its military power in the region.

In May a similar incident occurred when a Russian Su-30 also intercepted a P8-A over the Black Sea. Press reports cite Russian defense ministry sources as saying their plane conducted a “greeting maneuver.” Navy officials were reported at the time as calling the May intercept “safe and professional.”

In February, two Russian Su-24 aircraft buzzed guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG-78) while it was operating in international waters in the Black Sea. The Navy deemed this incident, “unsafe and unprofessional.”

In April 2014, a pair of Russian Su-24 aircraft buzzed guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75), while it was operating in the Baltic Sea. In a statement released at the time, U.S. European Command expressed “deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers.”

As for the latest incident involving Russian aircraft, the Navy and Department of Defense did not issue a formal statement, but a Navy spokesperson told USNI News, “the Russian aircraft was in its right to fly in international airspace, but we expect safe and professional conduct in international waters and airspace.”

  • muzzleloader

    I wonder if the picture of the Suhkoi is a file pic, or the actual one encountered. There are no white ones hanging on the rails. The refueling probe is extended also.

    • El Kabong

      File pic.

  • DaSaint

    …the Navy and Department of Defense did not issue a formal statement, but a Navy spokesperson told USNI News, “the Russian aircraft was in its right to fly in international airspace, but we expect safe and professional conduct in international waters and airspace.”

    Putin would deny it anyway.

  • Duane

    Looks like we may need to start sending up Super Hornet escorts with the P-8s when they are operating in proximity to Russian airspace. Might as well get the practice, because in a real shooting war the P-8s are going to be priority aerial targets for any enemy that operates submarines.

    • DaSaint

      I’d hang a couple AIM-9X all-aspect Sidewinders on the P8s, one on each outboard pylon. Give that next Russian fighter jockey something to think about. Expand on the ‘Distributed Lethality’ concept a bit.

      • leroy

        Well it is a nice thought, but doing that would just make the peacetime P-8 more of a target. I’m sure the pilots would rather fly unarmed. It would be pretty hard for the Russians to explain the downing of an unarmed reconnaissance aircraft. The world would react with anger, and likely so would we. For now, we just have to make sure pilots are trained on how to react to these incidents, how to fly the aircraft, and how to recover should the plane depart controlled flight. And practice having to relight an engine(s). NATOPS procedure/proficiency stuff. I’m sure they are.

        • DaSaint

          Leroy, you think our ‘peacetime’ P-8s are unarmed in their weapons bays? I would hope not, unless one can predict when a shooting war starts, and I don’t think anyone does. I would hope that they’re armed with at least a couple Mk 46 or Mk 50 torps – just in case.

          When we send up F-16s, F-15s, and CF-18s in ‘NORAD’ they’re armed with AAMs. They’re not just loaded with 20mm shells.

          I get your point, but I have to disagree that the presence of visible and capable all-aspect AAMs wouldn’t at least deter some of the antics our reconnaissance and patrol aircraft have been subjected to.

          • leroy

            My guess is they are completely unarmed. AIM-9s would just make the plane more of a threat, and since it’s a sitting target when out there all alone anyway, you’ll never see A-A missiles put on a P-8 when flying their routine surveillance mission. Now if tensions get higher, well, the entire game changes.

          • El Kabong

            Bat Rack P-3’s used to carry AIM-9’s.
            So did RAF Nimrods.

          • muzzleloader

            If we are going to counter these Russian thugs, I would like to do it with a platform that would really give them pause. A couple of F-18F’s or F-15,s with a brace of sidewinders or sparrows would do just fine.
            At some point the US is going to have start doing this, the sooner the better.

          • Duane

            Agreed, muzzleloader. We can’t turn a P8 into a Super Hornet, but we can send out a Super Hornet to escort the P8 when it is flying anywhere near Russia. I would hope we would do just that, and then let the Russian super heroes contend with one of our Top Guns.

          • El Kabong

            Recall the USAF F-22 ‘recommending’ to the Iranian F-4’s, “You really ought to go home”.

        • The_Usual_Suspect61

          leroy,
          The Russians shoot down civilian airliners. What makes you think that they give a sh*t as to whether an aircraft is armed or not?

  • SDW

    Lets say the P-8 was flying an oval circuit over the Black Sea. Simple geometry dictates that during a portion of each circuit it flies “towards Russia”. Heavens, I drive in Russia’s direction on the way to the supermarket but I don’t plan on going there (not with the price of gas, at least).

    • USNVO

      Beyond that no one was claiming that the Russians couldn’t intercept the aircraft, intercepts happen all the time all over the world. It is just that they should do it in a safe manner, even if the P-8 was headed straight toward them.

  • leroy

    Russia has been harassing U.S. planes like this, cutting them off and going into AB, since back in the day when they called themselves the USSR. I’ve talked to AF and Navy recon pilots who told me the exact same maneuver happened to them years ago. Nothing new here at all – except for maybe the AF and Navy are being more open about it. Now, if only they would have tried that trick with a Tomcat or a Hornet! : )

    • sferrin

      I used to know a P-3 pilot. He told me of an incident he was involved with where a Mig-31 “bounced” them, came from aft and below and pulled up very quickly right in front of them. Pilot said the Mig-31 passed so close he couldn’t see the wing tips as it climbed in front of them. Said the turbulence was incredible.

      • vincedc

        The turbulence is always incredible in a P-3. Lockheed designed that plane with no bending moment in the wings. The result is that turbulence goes from the wing tip to the fillings in your teeth with no dampening whatsoever.

      • leroy

        One can read up on it. These incidents were common Russian practice during the Cold War. And as you well know, you don’t need a collision to cause a crash. Some of that turbulence gets sucked into those big engine inlets and you could cause a compressor stall. Or the plane could be put into a spin because of disturbed airflow over the wing. But the Russians love pulling this crap, and have done so many times in decades past. My only regret is that we and NATO don’t do the same to their aircraft when they start snooping around our territory. Why are we always the ones to take it on the chin but never dish it out?

        • Rocco

          Because we as a nation became soft!! Try this BS cat & mouse with Israel !!!

          • leroy

            Plain and direct words from a plain-speaking man. I like how you think Roc! : )

          • Rocco

            At least I carry a big stick!!!

          • Thom Keely

            A big stick for some may be a toothpick for others.

          • Rocco

            That’s their problem!!

          • Duane

            No – we’re not soft, that’s ridiculous. And no, we should not be harassing Russian aircraft or ships. Those are the acts of the weak, trying to provoke the strong. The strong don’t need to go around whipping up drama – only the weak feel the need to do that.

            And if the Russians did that to an Israeli aircraft, no the Israelis would not retaliate. The Israelis are not looking for any new fights – they have far more than enough on their plates now between Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.

          • Rocco

            Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah 😵

        • incredulous1

          YEAH, so the alarming part is that they want to revert to the cold war, which was supposed to be over with. Is it really time for the cycle of history to start over again?

    • Rocco

      Nothing would happen unless they collided!! We can’t engage unless in time of war! Even if fired on they would have to get permission to engage!.

  • sferrin

    Such bravery. Interesting that Russian pilots don’t put on such a show when US fighters are around.

    • incredulous1

      The USS James Williams [DDG 95] just entered the Black Sea for its 21 day tour and headed for the Ukraine, so I think we can expect more “greetings” but getting jiggy with afterburners 50 ft off our nose is not acceptable in international airspace and they will get the response they probed for.

      • Rocco

        Really what response!!??

  • publius_maximus_III

    Russian intercept fighter heads up display:

    Professional/Safe……………Professional/Unsafe
    Unprofessional/Safe………..Unprofessional/Unsafe

  • incredulous1

    Perhaps Trump should call Vlady and tell him to “cut it out”

  • Ed L

    Arm the P-8 like the flying fortresses of old? But with sidewinders and mini gun turrets.

  • El Kabong

    Pot, meet kettle.

  • b2

    In the old days that was called getting “bumped”. No big deal and of course (yeah sure) we wouldn’t do that to them when they flew a Bear-D near the Battle Group…
    This is Small beer PR and Fear.

  • John B. Morgen

    The P-8 should had NATO fighter escorts.

  • Jonn Mero

    All we want is US planes going down. En masse. Dead US military is a delight!