WASHINGTON, April 30 (UPI) -- A Russian fighter jet performed what the United States considers an unsafe arial maneuver over a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane while flying over the Baltic Sea, the second such maneuver in a month.
CNN reported a Russian SU-27 flew within 25 feet of the U.S. Air Force RC-135 and performed a barrel roll, by flying over the U.S. plane from one side to the other in an inverted position.
"The SU-27 intercepted the U.S. aircraft flying a routine route at high rate of speed from the side then proceeded to perform an aggressive maneuver that posed a threat to the safety of the U.S. aircrew in the RC-135," U.S. Army spokesman Lt. Col. Michelle L. Baldanza said.
A nearly identical incident occurred on April 14 over the Baltic Sea, when a Russian SU-27 flew within 50 feet of a Air Force RC-135's wing tip and performed a similar barrel roll maneuver to fly over the top of the U.S. aircraft.
The Russian defense ministry defended the action in a statement, saying the U.S. plane approached Russia's border with it's transponder turned off.
"All flights of Russian planes are conducted in accordance with international regulations on the use of airspace," the statement said. "The U.S. Air Force has two solutions: either not to fly near our borders or to turn the transponder on for identification."
Pentagon spokesman Daniel Hernandez said the U.S. plane did not enter Russian territory and said that Russian military aircrafts have repeatedly been involved in dangerous air and sea traffic incidents throughout the last year.
"The US aircraft was operating in international airspace and at no time crossed into Russian territory," he said. "This unsafe and unprofessional air intercept has the potential to cause serious harm and injury to all air crews involved."
Hernandez said continuation of such actions could "unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries."