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Venezuelan Su-30MKII Flanker fighter jet Aggressively Shadowed a U.S. Navy EP-3E aircraft

Venezuelan Su-30MKII Flanker fighter jet Aggressively Shadowed a U.S. Navy EP-3E aircraft

Venezuelan fighter aircraft recently made an “unsafe approach” to a US Navy aircraft flying in international airspace, “endangering the safety of the crew and jeopardizing” the aircraft’s mission, the US military said

The incident, which occurred on Friday, involved a “Russian-made” SU-30 Flanker Venezuelan fighter aircraft and a US Navy EP-3 Aries II aircraft conducting a “detection and monitoring” mission, US Southern Command said in a statement. In a Sunday tweet, the Southern Command said the incident happened in international airspace over the Caribbean Sea.

The U.S. military has just released a series of four videos filmed by a U.S. Navy EP-3E ARIES II intercepted by a Venezuelan Air Force Su-30MKII Flanker in international airspace over the Caribbean Sea on Jul. 19, 2019.

 

According to U.S. Southern Command, the Russian-built multirole aircraft “aggressively shadowed” the EP-3E aircraft, flying at an unsafe distance from the interlligence gathering aircraft “jeopardizing the crew and aircraft.”

“After reviewing video documentation, we have determined the Russian-made fighter aggressively shadowed the EP-3 at an unsafe distance in international airspace for a prolonged period of time, endangering the safety of the crew and jeopardizing the EP-3 mission,” the statement read.

SOUTHCOM said that the U.S. “routinely conducts regionally-supported, multi-nationally recognized and approved detection and monitoring missions in the region to ensure the safety and security of our citizens and those of our partners.”

The EP-3 aircraft was “adhering to international standards and rules” at the time of the incident, SOUTHCOM said.

The Navy plane, an EP-3 aircraft is generally used by the Navy for anti-Submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare and has a range of 2,380 nautical miles, according to a Navy fact sheet.

The incident underscored rising tensions between the two nations. The Trump administration and more than 50 other nations back opposition leader Juan Guaido’s attempt to oust President Nicolas Maduro, whom they accuse of leading the country into a historic crisis. The socialist leader maintains support from countries including Cuba, China and Russia.

Venezuelan officials claimed the aircraft entered Venezuelan airspace without notification and was “a clear provocation” in addition to being in violation of international treaties. Venezuela’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said on Twitter the incident happened around midday on Friday, and created a safety risk for commercial aircraft from the country’s main airport.

The Venezuelan Operational Strategic Command also shared a map of where the incident took place. Upon identifying the plane as a U.S. electronic intelligence-gathering aircraft, the fighter jet escorted it from the region, Venezuelan authorities said, adding that there have been 76 such incidents this year.

SOUTHCOM said that the “unprofessional” act demonstrated a continued action by the Maduro regime to “undermine internationally-recognized laws and demonstrate its contempt for international agreements authorizing the U.S. and other nations to safely conduct flights in international airspace.”

“Despite the Venezuelan people’s suffering, his nation’s vital infrastructure crumbling, and children starving, Maduro chooses to use his country’s precious resources to engage in unprovoked and unjustified acts,” SOUTHCOM said.

SOUTHCOM added the action by Venezuela “demonstrates Russia’s irresponsible military support to the illegitimate Maduro regime and adds to Maduro’s growing legacy of reckless and negligent behavior, which undermines international rule of law and efforts to counter illicit trafficking.”

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