Washington (CNN)A U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane was barrel-rolled by a Russian jet over the Baltic Sea during a routine flight in international airspace, U.S. European Command said Saturday, but Russia disputed that account.
The incident Thursday occurred when a Russian jet “performed erratic and aggressive maneuvers” as it flew within 50 feet of the U.S. aircraft’s wing tip, Danny Hernandez, a spokesman for U.S. European Command, said in a response to a question from CNN.
The Russian Su-27 began the barrel roll from the left side of the U.S. RC-135 and went over the top of it to end on the right side of the aircraft, European Command said.
The RC-135 aircraft was “intercepted by a Russian SU-27 in an unsafe and unprofessional manner,” Hernandez said, adding that the U.S. plane never entered Russian territory.
“The unsafe and unprofessional actions of a single pilot have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries,” said Hernandez, who added the United States is protesting with the Russian government.