Two Russian Su-35 fighter jets flew in an unsafe and unprofessional manner while intercepting a U.S. Navy P-8A maritime patrol aircraft over international waters in the Eastern Mediterranean, the U.S. Navy has said.
The U.S. Navy's 6th Fleet said the incident on May 26 lasted around 65 minutes, during which the Russian pilots simultaneously flew on each wing of the P-8A and restricted the aircraft's ability to maneuver.
"The unnecessary actions of the Russian Su-35 pilots were inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules, and jeopardized the safety of flight of both aircraft," the Naples, Italy-based fleet said.
"Actions like these increase the potential for midair collisions," it added.
It was the third time in two months that Russian pilots unsafely intercepted P-8A reconnaissance aircraft over international waters in the Mediterranean.
On April 19, the U.S. Navy said an Su-35 conducted a maneuver that left only 8 meters separation in front of the P-8A, exposing the U.S. aircraft to wake turbulence and jet exhaust.
In another interception on April 15, an SU-35 conducted a high-speed inverted maneuver just meters from the reconnaissance plane.
"In all cases, the U.S. aircraft were operating in international airspace, consistent with international law, with due regard for safety of flight, and did not provoke this Russian activity," the U.S. Navy said.