In April 2015, a Boeing-manufactured RC-135U aircraft was intercepted by a Russian SU-27 Flanker fighter jet while flying over the Baltic Sea. The encounter was more than just unsafe. According to US officials at the Pentagon, the Russian pilot’s actions were “unsafe and unprofessional due to the aggressive maneuvers it performed in close proximity to their aircraft and its high rate of speed." Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright said the Pentagon and State Department will "file the appropriate petition through diplomatic channels" with Russia.
Unfortunately, this is not the first aggressive behavior that a Russian SU-27 has aimed at a United States plane. Last year, a Russian jet flew within 100 feet of a Boeing RC-135U over the Sea of Okhotsk in the Western Pacific. US officials considered it to be “one of the most dangerous close passes” since the Cold War in the skies north of Japan. The United States and Russia have many opportunities to encounter each other, both in Northern Europe and the area between the Russian Far East and Alaska.
Russia is defending their maneuver by saying the US plane was flying towards their border with their transponder switched off, which can be mistaken as a threatening act. Major General Igor Konashenkov said the Russian jet flew around the U.S. plane several times in order to identify it and get its tail number. The Boeing RC-135U is one of the most secretive U.S. surveillance planes: deployed at RAF Mildenhall in the UK, it provides strategic electronic reconnaissance information, performing signal analysis by means of a wide variety of commercial off-the-shelf and proprietary hardware and software, including the Automatic Electronic Emitter Locating System. It makes sense that the Russian are unhappy when one of these planes flies in the vicinity of their bases however, an official with the U.S. European Command said the claim that the transponder was off was false.
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