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Report: Russian jet passes within 20 feet of Navy plane over the Baltic Sea

A P-8A Poseidon participates in a photo exercise during Exercise Dynamic Manta 2017 over the Mediterranean Sea in March 2017. A Russian fighter flew within 20 feet of a Poseidon over the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, May 1, 2018.

FORD WILLIAMS/U.S. NAVY

By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 2, 2018

STUTTGART, Germany — A Russian fighter flew within 20 feet of a Navy reconnaissance plane over the Baltic Sea in a maneuver deemed safe but unprofessional by the U.S. military, CNN reported Tuesday.

The intercept on Tuesday involved a Russian Su-27 jet and a Navy P-8 Poseidon, which routinely conducts surveillance missions in the region.

The Navy declined to provide details about the encounter, but confirmed that it was “safe.”

“Due to standing (Defense Department) policy, we do not release the details of safe interactions,” said Cmdr. Tom Gordy, a spokesman for the Navy in Europe. “If an unsafe interaction occurs in the future, we will provide more information at that time.”

Russian, U.S. and NATO air forces all operate near one another over the Baltic Sea, and intercepts aren’t unusual near Russia’s borders with NATO territory.

However, on occasion the military will publicly call out certain intercepts as dangerous.

In January, a Russian fighter flew within 5 feet of a U.S. Navy reconnaissance plane over the Black Sea, which risked a collision, the Navy said at the time.

Such encounters are an ongoing concern for the U.S. military, which has faced a series of provocative intercepts by Russian aircraft during the past few years.

In November, a Russian fighter crossed within 50 feet of a U.S. surveillance aircraft flying over the Black Sea, blasting its afterburners and forcing the American aircraft into a stream of turbulence that caused the plane to tilt into a 15-degree roll. That maneuver also was deemed unsafe.

vandiver.john@stripes.com

Twitter: john_vandiver

A P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft assigned to Patrol Squadron 4 sits at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., March 9, 2018.
JUAN S. SUA/U.S. NAVY

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