Barrel rolls over plane in latest Baltic Sea provocation
A Russian fighter jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft on Thursday in the latest military provocation by Moscow over the Baltic Sea, the U.S. European Command said Saturday.
“On April 14, a U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft flying a routine route in international airspace over the Baltic Sea was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 in an unsafe and unprofessional manner,” said Navy Capt. Danny Hernandez.
“This intercept comes shortly after the unsafe Russian encounters with USS Donald Cook,” he added. “There have been repeated incidents over the last year where Russian military aircraft have come close enough to other air and sea traffic to raise serious safety concerns, and we are very concerned with any such behavior.”
Hernandez said the U.S. aircraft, a militarized Boeing 707 jet, was operating in international airspace “and at no time crossed into Russian territory.”
“This unsafe and unprofessional air intercept has the potential to cause serious harm and injury to all aircrews involved,” he said. “More importantly, the unsafe and unprofessional actions of a single pilot have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries.”
According to Hernandez, the Su-27 carried out “erratic and aggressive maneuvers” by approaching the RC-135 at a high rate of speed from the side.
The Russian jet “then proceeded to perform an aggressive maneuver that posed a threat to the safety of the U.S. aircrew in the RC-135U,” the spokesman said.
“More specifically, the SU-27 closed within 50 feet of the wing-tip of the RC-135 and conducted a barrel roll starting from the left side of the aircraft, going over the top of the aircraft and ended up to the right of the aircraft,” he said.
Strategically, Russian leader Vladimir Putin has been seeking to regain control and influence over what Moscow calls the “near abroad”—former Soviet republics and Eastern Bloc nations along the periphery of Russia’s borders in Eastern Europe.
The policy has led to military aggression against the Republic of Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014, where Russian troops took over the Crimean peninsula and are continuing to fuel separatist activity in eastern Ukraine.
The dangerous Su-24 overflight of the Cook on April 12 came a day after two other Russian Su-24s flew over the ship 20 times, including a dangerous pass as an allied helicopter was being refueled, causing a delay in flight operations until the Su-24s left the area.
The same day, a Russian Ka-27 Helix helicopter flew around the Cook, which had finished a port visit to Poland and had a Polish helicopter on board.
“The Russian aircraft flew in a simulated attack profile and failed to respond to repeated safety advisories in both English and Russian,” the European Command said in a statement.
Additionally, last October, two Russian Tu-142 bombers made low passes near the aircraft carrier USS Reagan as it sailed in the Sea of Japan near the Korean peninsula. And on July 4, 2015, two Tu-95 nuclear-capable bombers approached within 40 miles of the California coast and radioed a “happy birthday” message to intercepting U.S. pilots.
The July 4 provocation occurred the same day President Obama held a telephone call with Putin.
Russia also has sent Tu-95 bombers to circle the Pacific island of Guam several times. The island is a major military hub and central to the U.S. military’s pivot to Asia.
Full article: Russian Jet Threatened U.S. Recon Aircraft (Washington Free Beacon)