U.S. says Russian fighter conducted unsafe intercept of Navy surveillance plane

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea was intercepted three times by a Russian jet fighter over three hours on Tuesday, including a high-speed pass that was deemed unsafe and put the plane at risk, the U.S. Sixth Fleet said.

"While the Russian aircraft was operating in international airspace, this interaction was irresponsible," the Sixth Fleet said in a statement.

"We expect them to behave within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent incidents," it said.

The Sixth Fleet said the first and third intercepts of the P-8A Poseidon were deemed to be safe but the second intercept involved a high-speed pass directly in front of the U.S. aircraft that produced wake turbulence and "put our pilots and crew at risk."

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The intercept lasted about 28 minutes, it said.

(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Paul Tait)

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