A Russian fighter plane flew dangerously close to an American reconnaissance aircraft operating over international waters in the Baltic Sea Friday morning, the Pentagon said.
It was the latest in a series of incidents where Russian aircraft have buzzed American planes or ships operating in the region, raising concerns the maneuvers could lead to mishaps.
“This unsafe and unprofessional air intercept has the potential to cause serious harm and injury to all aircrews involved,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “More importantly, the unsafe and unprofessional actions of a single pilot have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries.”
The statement cited “repeated incidents over the last year” where Russian planes have come dangerously close to American aircraft or planes in the region.
The statement did not detail the type of maneuver the Russian pilot performed, but a senior defense official said the Russian aircraft flew along the U.S. aircraft and then did a “barrel roll” over the top of the aircraft, closing within 100 feet of the American RC-135. The official asked not to be named since he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.
The United States has expressed concerns that the dangerous maneuvers could lead to mishaps and escalate tensions between the two countries.
Earlier this month, Russian attack planes buzzed the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook during the U.S.’s joint exercises in the Baltic Sea.