A Russian fighter jet intercepted an American reconnaissance plane over international airspace in April, the Pentagon revealed on Tuesday.
Pentagon spokesman, Army Colonel Steve Warren said the incident happened over the Pacific in late April and prompted top US officials to complaint to senior Russian military officials.
Warren said the Russian Su-27 fighter jet flew across the nose of the US Air Force RC-135U plane, coming as close as about 100 feet from it, while in international airspace over the Sea of Okhotsk, located in the western Pacific Ocean, to the north of the East Sea/Sea of Japan.
The Russian pilot turned the jet to show the belly of it in an apparent effort to demonstrate it was armed, Warren added, however, the US plane took no evasive action and the crews shared no communications.
The Pentagon spokesman added that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey took up the incident between the fighter jet and the US plane up with their respective Russian counterparts.
Reports indicate the Russian fighter jet came close enough to the US plane that the two aircraft could have well collided and some officials called the actions “reckless” and “one of the most dangerous close passes in decades”
Defense officials familiar with the events say that the Air Force RC-135 electronic intelligence jet was flying a surveillance mission about 60 miles off the Russia’s East coast, north of Japan, on April 23 when the incident occurred, as reported by the website Freebeacon.com.
— Marc Hilliker (@MarcHilliker) June 3, 2014
The Russian fighter jet’s actions were video recorded by the American crew, showing how the Su-27 began following the US plane and at one point rolled on its side to reveal an air-to-air missile. The jet then flew within 100-feet off he cockpit trying to rattle the crew.
Defense officials characterized the Russian fighter jet’s actions as a “reckless intercept” and “one of the most dangerous encounters between a US reconnaissance plane and a fighter jet since the days of the Cold War.”
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney said he is concerned about the provocative incident over international air space:
“The dangerous intercept by a Russian Su-27 is far worse than we experienced during the Cold War. In my four plus years as the Alaskan (North American Aerospace Defense) region commander at the height of the Cold War, we never saw such recklessness by the USSR.”
“President Putin sees weakness in the current American leadership and is trying to intimidate us. It apparently does not bother this administration.”
The Russian fighter jet interception of the US plane took place days after Japanese aircraft intercepted two Russian military planes performing anti-submarine patrols near the Japanese island of Hokkaido.
[Image via Dmitriy Pichugin/Wikipedia]