Russian aircraft buzz US Navy patrol planes, get within 5 feet, Pentagon says

There were three separate 'unprofessional' incidents, the Pentagon said.

February 16, 2022, 5:27 PM

Amid tensions over a possible invasion of Ukraine, Russian aircraft intercepted U.S. Navy patrol planes in an "unprofessional" manner three separate times over the weekend, in one incident coming within five feet of an American plane, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

PHOTO: U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft lands at Ngurah Rai Military Air Base in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, on April 25 2021.
U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft lands at Ngurah Rai Military Air Base in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, on April 25 2021.
NurPhoto via Getty Images, FILE

The Boeing-made U.S. P-8A aircraft are designed for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, according to the Navy.

"The U.S. flight crews were flying in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea at the time of these intercepts," DOD spokesman Capt. Mike Kafka said in a statement Wednesday.

PHOTO: U.S. Navy service member works on a P-8 Poseidon military aircraft at the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, South Korea, Oct. 14, 2019.
U.S. Navy service member works on a P-8 Poseidon military aircraft at the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, South Korea, Oct. 14, 2019.
Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

CNN was first to report a close encounter between U.S. and Russian aircraft.

The incidents all happened in the same general area of the eastern Mediterranean over several days, a U.S. official told ABC News. The official said it is unclear whether there was any connection with large-scale Russian naval exercises being held there.

The U.S. has used diplomatic channels to raise its concerns to Russian officials, Kafka said.

"While no one was hurt, interactions such as these could result in miscalculations and mistakes that lead to more dangerous outcomes," he added.

PHOTO: U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft lands at Ngurah Rai Military Air Base in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, on April 25 2021.
U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft lands at Ngurah Rai Military Air Base in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, on April 25 2021.
NurPhoto via Getty Images, FILE

"The U.S. will continue to operate safely, professionally and consistent with international law in international waters and airspace," Kafka said. "We expect Russia to do the same."

ABC News' Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

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