A Russian Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker conducted a safe but unprofessional intercept of a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft over the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, according to several press reports.
The Flanker flew within 20 feet of P-8A in what defense officials describe as an unprofessional but safe intercept, Fox News Pentagon correspondent Lucas Tomlinson tweeted.
CNN reported the encounter over the Baltic lasted about nine minutes over international airspace.
A U.S. Naval Forces Europe spokesperson did not acknowledge the intercept in a statement provided to USNI News.
“U.S. Navy ships and aircraft routinely interact with military units from other countries. Due to standing DOD policy, we do not release the details of safe interactions,” U.S. 6th Fleet spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Zach Harrell said.
“If an unsafe interaction occurs in the future, we will provide more information at that time,”
The incident follows a more extreme intercept over the Black Sea in which a Flanker came within five feet of a U.S. Navy EP-3E Aries II electronic surveillance aircraft over the Black Sea in January.
In contrast to Tuesday’s brief intercept, the January intercept of the Aries II lasted more than two hours.
Intercepts between U.S. surveillance aircraft and Russian fighters have become more common since Moscow’s 2014 forced annexation of Crimea.
Prior to the more recent intercepts, a Russian Su-30 Flanker fighter jet intercepted a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon, in a manner the Pentagon called unsafe in November.
In September 2016 a Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker flew within 10 feet of Navy P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft, also over the Black Sea.