Washington: The US has decided to complain to Russia over a Russian jet intercepting a US reconnaissance plane earlier this week in an “unsafe and unprofessional manner”, media reports said.
A US RC-135U was flying over the Baltic Sea when it was intercepted by a Russian SU-27 Flanker on Tuesday, CNN reported on Saturday. The Pentagon said the incident occurred in international airspace north of Poland.
The US crew believed that the Russian pilot’s actions were “unsafe and unprofessional due to the aggressive manoeuvres it performed in close proximity to their aircraft and its high rate of speed”, Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright said.
The US plane was flying towards the Russian border with its transponder switched off, reported Russian state news agency Sputnik citing a defence official. The Russian jet flew around the US plane several times to identify it and get its tail number, it is understood.
An official with the US European Command refuted the claim that the US plane was flying with its transponder switched off.
Wright said that the Pentagon and US State Department would “file the appropriate petition through diplomatic channels” with Russia.
This is not the first time that the US has decided to complain about an incident involving Russian and US jets. An year ago, a Russian jet flew within 100 feet of a US RC-135U plane over the Sea of Okhotsk in the western Pacific, according to US officials who called it “one of the most dangerous close passes in decades”. The Pentagon had complained to the Russian military about that incident.
Russian and US aircraft often encounter each other, both in northern Europe as well as in the area between the Russian far-east and Alaska.