Navy Has Released Additional Videos Of The Russian Su-27 Intercepting U.S. EP-3E To Show How Close The Flanker Was To The Spy Plane

The new videos show the Russian Flanker flying close to the EP-3E Aries II. Still, the clips don’t show the most dangerous maneuver.

As you already know by now, on Jan. 29, a U.S. EP-3 Aries II intelligence gathering aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea as FARM26 was intercepted by a Russian Su-27. During the intercept, the Russian Flanker allegedly performed an unsafe maneuver: the Su-27 closed to within five feet and crossed directly through the EP-3’s flight path, causing the EP-3 to fly through the Su-27’s jet wash.

Yesterday, the U.S. Navy released the footage of the Su-27 “buzzing” the Navy spyplane. Although the Flanker appears to be quite close to the EP-3E, as explained, the clip does not help determining the distance from the EP-3E’s wingtip.

Today, the 6th Fleet released more videos of the dangerous interaction along with some interesting comments (highlight mine):

The videos show the Russian Su-27 maneuvering around the U.S. Navy EP-3 in close proximity and in varying positions.

While not shown in the released imagery, during the intercept, the Russian Su-27 executed a hard right-to-left turn from the U.S. EP-3’s right side with an excessive closure rate and came within five feet of the EP-3’s right wingtip. The Russian Su-27 then proceeded to enter the flight path of the U.S. Navy EP-3, crossing within 10 feet and executing a sharp dive below, which resulted in violent turbulence for the U.S. EP-3 and its crewmembers.

“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 U.S. 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. The smallest lapse of focus or error in airmanship by the intercepting aircrew can have disastrous consequences. There is no margin for error and insufficient time or space for our aircrews to take corrective action,” said Ellis.

Here are the additional clips. Beware, the zoom affects the perception of the distances between the two aircraft.

H/T to our friend @CivMilAir for the heads up

About David Cenciotti 4467 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Steady flight in a close formation, but still no 5 feet or maneuvers. Let’s wait for next videos. Maybe in parts 20 or 22 we’ll see something dangerous.
    Nice zoom by the way. Makes things look closer and bigger.

  2. I was right! An unsafe intercept any way you cut it. One that could have cost the lives of probably over a dozen crewmen. Then cutting the plane off and making it fly through the Flanker’s jet-wash. UNSAT! But Russians don’t play fair, so words aren’t enough to stop these dangerous intercepts.

    President Trump needs to be advised and General Mattis needs to take some sort of action. Again – words and agreements aren’t worth the paper they’re written on where Moscow is concerned. We
    need a more muscular response. There are a number of things can be done, so … Make It So!

    • Please show Trump and Mattis how real men interacted before hysteria overtook professionalism. I cannot imagine anything harder to do, than what Newlin did here! Unfortunately, I cannot imagine any Western crew reacting like the Soviet crew here!

      When real adults met!

      Of course, Statesmen were in charge then, not hysteric Statespigmyes like today. And the media knew the meaning of honesty and decency.

      • Too often, narcissistic imbeciles have taken over. The politicians that the world had in the 50s, 60s and 70s of the last century mostly did know what war means. Especially in Europe. That’s why they acted professionally and deescalating. The politicians we have now are literally like an elephant in the porcelain shop. But the worst is our media. They are spreading war propaganda every day. Publishing biased and exaggerating articles.

        A guideline from the Federal Agency for Civic Education in Germany:
        “Characteristic of propaganda is that it does not explain the different sides of a topic and mixes opinion and information.”

        Mattis and Trump are no real politicians. They don’t know much about diplomacy. They have a hammer and guess what…

        Money quote from Mattis:

        Q: “Your national defense strategy you laid out this last week mentioned the great power competition with China and Russia. I’m wondering what role that might play in this trip (inaudible)?”

        SEC. MATTIS: “Yes, you know, I think that what we’re looking for is a world where we solve problems, and we don’t shred trust. We don’t militarize features in the middle of international waters. We don’t invade other countries, in Russia’s case — Georgia, Ukraine. That we settle things by international rule of law, you know, this sort of thing. And so I think that in terms of great power and competition. One point I want to make is we respect these as sovereign nations with a sovereign voice and sovereign decisions, and we don’t think anyone else should have a veto authority over their economic, their diplomatic or their security decisions.

        So one of the points I will be making just by being there is we respect these countries, and we respect their sovereignty, their sovereign decisions.”


        Seems he just forgot about Grenada, Afghanistan, Iraq (2003), Yugoslavia (1999) and so on.

        And is it coincidence that our “patriots” on this site also keep mentioning Ukraine and Georgia and leave out the Russian view or real events that are well documented and have repeatedly been posted here? Or is it a hidden agenda?

    • there is so blind as those who will not see. Is a standard flight formation mate!, nothing spectacular for military pilots!, and where is the video with the nose pass, or the video with the EP-3 shaking due the jet-wash? All is only in your mind and the minds of the US military bosses

      • I know, you don’t. What they say happened, happened. Unlike you, I’ve seen jet-wash video with Russian aircraft cutting off U.S. aircraft, getting in their flight path and going into burner. If the Pentagon wants to release that footage they will.

      • The video of the nose pass was the first video. Look at the instrumentation. Heading 27 deg true, camera bearing 89 deg. So the camera was pointed 62 deg to the right of the aircraft longitudinal axis. The aircraft shook after it passed through the wake of that pass. While the 5ft argument was off the wing no doubt, that’s just the same situation the Chinese J-8 could not handle and led to the Hainan Island collision.

  3. If Crimea is Ukraine as per pepe shillstein, why doesn’t the ep3 just fly into crimean air space?

  4. A standard close formation flight (not tight), like any other, stable and keeping the height and speed, nothing that any pilot can handle easily.

    • Until either pilot misunderstands each other and does an unexpected move. You should ask the PLAAF J8 pilot how he fared in 2000 doing the same tricks with another USN EP3… oh wait……he won’t be answering us anymore.

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