The US Navy has released a new series of clips showcasing how eerily close a Russian fighter jet came when its spy plane was flying over international waters of the Black Sea.
The Navy said the jet, a Sukhoi Su-27, came within five feet of the right wing tip of their EP-3 Aries II surveillance aircraft and made dangerous manoeuvres – an 'unsafe' action that lasted for more than two hours and resulted in violent turbulence for its plane and the crewmembers aboard.
"These videos show the Russian Su-27 intercepting the EP-3 from a very close position, at the same altitude, and with an estimated wingtip-to-wingtip horizontal separation as little as five feet at times," said US Navy Capt. Bill Ellis, commander of Task Force 67.
"For the Russian fighter aircraft to fly this close to the U.S. Navy aircraft, especially for extended periods of time, is unsafe."
As you can see in these clips, combined into one, the Sukhoi was extremely close to the EP-3. The distance between the two aircraft was so less that in one shot you can even see the armament of the twin-engine Russian fighter jet.
The aircraft, as Popular Mechanics reports, appears to be heavily armed with around 10 hardpoints, a 30mm GSh-301 cannon and two air-to-air missiles, one a radar-guided R-27R and other an infrared-guided R-27T.
"The smallest lapse of focus or error in airmanship by the intercepting aircrew can have disastrous consequences," Ellis added. "There is no margin for error and insufficient time or space for our aircrews to take corrective action".
In response to the incident, Russia had issued a statement noting that the plane intercepted the aircraft at a safe distance and accompanied it, preventing it from violating Russian airspace. "The entire flight of the Russian Su-27 was strictly in accordance with international rules for the use of airspace and there were no extraordinary events," the statement added.