An armed Russian Su-27 fighter jet reportedly came to within five feet of an unarmed US Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft on Monday over the Baltic Sea. The encounter is being classified as “unsafe and unprofessional” by Pentagon officials.
The Su-27 was reportedly armed with air-to-air missiles, and carried out what one defense official categorized as a “provocative flight path” in its intercept of the reconnaissance plane. Another official called the Russian pilot’s maneuvers “erratic.” That same official even went so far as to claim that the Russian pilot demonstrated “poor control” of the aircraft.
The U.S. RC-135 bears a resemblance to a commercial aircraft and is used to collect electronic transmissions for analysis.
“Due to the high rate of closure speed and poor control of the (Russian) aircraft during the intercept, this interaction was determined to be unsafe,” a spokesperson for European Command (EUCOM) said.