Russian Fighter Jet Interception too close for comfort to US plane

Russian Fighter Jet Flies 5-Feet From Wing Of U.S. Spy Plane As Tensions Mount

U.S. officials report an “unsafe” encounter on Monday between a Russian fighter jet and a U.S. reconnaissance plane in the international airspace over the Baltic Sea. The Russian jet came within five feet of the wing of the American plane. Officials claim this was an “unsafe” approach due to the pilot of the Russian fighter jet flying at a “high rate of closure speed” and demonstrating “poor control of the aircraft.”

The BBC reports the Russians have reported a different account of the interaction between the Russian jet and the U.S. aircraft. They claim it was the American plane that made a “provocative” move toward their aircraft. This comes on the heels of the warning from Russia yesterday that they will target U.S. jets flying in Syria. This warning was in response to the Syrian jet that was shot down by the U.S. after the jet made targets out of the American-allied rebels.

CNN News reports that the Russian jet was flying “erratically,” which was seen as “unsafe” maneuvers due to the close proximity of the jet to the wing of the American plane. The Russians claim that they intercepted the reconnaissance aircraft as the plane “approached the Russian state border.” They also blamed the dangerous maneuver on the U.S. aircraft crew and not their own.

Monday’s encounter is one of more than 30 interactions between the U.S. and the Russians since the beginning of June with both Russian jets and ships in the Baltic Sea. The majority of these encounters were not seen as dangerous like Monday’s interaction. U.S. officials report that the majority of these encounters have been “safe” and “professional.” U.S. Navy spokesperson Capt. Jeff Davis said, “Russia is certainly within its right to exercise within international airspace, but we want them to respect international standards for safety to prevent accidents.”

Captain Jeff Davis also told reporters today that the U.S. plane did nothing to provoke this behavior from the Russian jet. He also said that the U.S. aircraft was in international airspace at the time of the encounter. Russia’s take on the encounter puts the American plane behaving dangerously after a Russian Su-27 fighter jet intercepted the plane and was escorting it at the time. They accuse the crew of the U.S. plane of attempting a maneuver with the Russian fighter jet. They claim the Americans did a “provocative” turnaround towards the Russian fighter jet.

The tensions are mounting today between the U.S. and Russia, which sides with the Syrian regime. The military reports yet another encounter today. This time, it was an armed Iranian-made drone that was shot down by the U.S. military in Syria.

[Featured Image by Darko Vojinovic/AP Images]