(London Post – Sky News) The US military says a Russian jet barrel rolled an American reconnaissance plane, in the latest tense encounter between the Cold War-era foes.
US European Command said a Russian Su-27 “performed erratic and aggressive manoeuvres” flying within 50ft of the US RC-135 aircraft in international airspace over the Baltic Sea on Thursday.
The American plane, a militarised Boeing 707 used for electronic intelligence gathering, “at no time crossed into Russian territory”, said US European Command spokesman Danny Hernandez.
“The Su-27 closed within 50ft 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.
But Russia dismissed the claim as “running counter to reality”.
It said its air defences had to scramble a fighter jet after detecting a high-speed unidentified target over the Baltic Sea heading for its borders.
Defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said after making “visual contact” with the Su-27, the American plane changed course away from Russia’s borders.
The flight of the Russian warplane was in “strict conformity with international laws … and there were no emergency situations”, Mr Konashenkov added.
But Laura Seal, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said the Russian plane endangered all the air crews involved.
“The unsafe and unprofessional actions of a single pilot have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries,” she said.
The incident followed two Russian Su-24 bombers buzzing the Donald Cook , a US guided missile destroyer, in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday.
American military officials said the “simulated attack” fly-bys near the warship were one of the most aggressive interactions in recent memory.
US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned that encounter as dangerous and provocative.
The incidents come as diplomatic tensions simmer between Moscow and Washington over the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.