WASHINGTON — A US reconnaissance aircraft was buzzed by a Russian SU-27 flanker over the Baltic Sea near Russia’s Kaliningrad region on Tuesday, prompting the Pentagon to file a complaint to Moscow, according to a report by CNN yesterday.
The Pentagon said the US RC-135U aircraft was flying a routine route in the international space, north of Poland when it was intercepted by the Russian jet.
The US crew believed the Russian pilot’s actions were “unsafe and unprofessional due to the aggressive maneuvers it performed in close proximity to the aircraft and its high rate of speed,” Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told CNN.
Russian state news agency Sputnik has reported that the US plane was flying toward the Russian border with its transponder switched off, according to a Defense Ministry spokesman.
Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the Russian jet flew around the US plane several times to identify it and get its tail number.
An official with the US- European Command said the claim that the transponder was off was totally false, CNN added.
Wright said the Pentagon and State Department will “file the appropriate petition through diplomatic channels with Russia.”
According to CNN, this is not the first time the US has complained about an incident involving an RC-135U and a SU-27. A year ago, a Russian jet flew within 100 feet of RC-135U over the Sea of Okhotsk in the western Pacific. US officials called it “one of the most dangerous close passes in decades.”
Russian and US aircraft often encounter each other, both in northern Europe as well as the area between the Russian far east and Alaska.