A Polish aircraft on a mission for Frontex was intercepted over the Black Sea by a Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter, according to Romanian and Polish authorities.
The incident occurred on May 5, 2023, when an L-410 Turbolet aircraft belonging to the Polish Border Police was carrying out routine patrol missions in cooperation with the Romanian Border Police under the auspices of Frontex in international airspace.
The Russian pilot performed “aggressive and dangerous maneuvers” repeatedly, generating a high level of turbulence and causing major control difficulties for the Polish crew, the Romanian Ministry of Defense said.
“The Russian warplane flew right in front of the nose of the Border Guard plane, crossing its flight path at a dangerous distance,” the Polish Border Guard reported in a statement, saying the fighter came as close as 5 meters away from the aircraft. “The crew of 5 Polish Border Guard officers lost control of the plane and lost altitude
As a result, fighter jets of the Romanian Air Force and Spanish Air Force were pre-alerted by the NATO Combined Air Operations Center in Torrejon, Spain. Although they were not deployed, they were prepared to intervene if necessary.
The Polish crew managed to land safely at Mihail Kogălniceanu Airport in Romania at 13:50 after experiencing an initial loss of altitude due to the maneuvers of the Su-35 aircraft. No crew members on board the Polish aircraft were injured.
The unarmed Polish plane was monitoring the migration risk and was approximately 60 kilometers east of Romanian airspace at the time of the incident. It has been deployed in Romania since April 19 and until May 17, 2023, as part of an operation organized by Romania and coordinated by Frontex, in which Spain and Sweden are participating.