Russia-U.S. Aerial Confrontations ‘Common’


Russian fighter jets | Image by Anton Gvozdikov

While the recent in-air collision between an American drone and a Russian fighter jet has made the headlines, one official says such encounters are actually quite the norm.

In a briefing on March 14,  John F. Kirby, a National Security Council spokesman, explained that had been similar “intercepts” of U.S. aircraft by Russian aircraft in recent weeks, per The New York Times.

As reported by The Dallas Express, a Russian Su-27 fighter jet clipped the American MQ-9 Reaper drone’s propeller in international airspace over the Black Sea early on March 14. The maneuver, video footage of which has been released by the U.S. European Command, caused the drone to crash.

The U.S. European Command also claimed that fuel was dumped on the drone, which had been conducting a routine surveillance mission when it came across two Russian jets, per AP News.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense has denied that the jet made contact with the drone, blaming instead the drone’s “sharp maneuver,” which sent it “into uncontrollable flight,” according to AP News.

It also referred to the U.S. reconnaissance flights as “provocative in nature, which creates preconditions for an escalation of the situation in the Black Sea zone,” per The Moscow Times.

This “provocation” is judged as such by the drone’s violation of what Moscow sees as an exclusion zone that it has declared around Crimea, per AP News. International waters and airspace are said to begin at 12 miles from the shoreline. The U.S. claims the drone incident happened about 50 miles from the coast.

Regardless of who was in the wrong and whether the incident was intentional, it was not the first time that Russian aircraft have flown close to U.S. aircraft and warships during their exercises in the Black Sea.

While the latest military intercept stands out, as Kirby claimed, for the recklessness of the Russian jets, they are quite routine, per the NYT.

They also happen both ways, as NORAD reported that U.S. fighter jets intercepted several Russian Tupolev TU-95 bombers in international airspace off the coast of Alaska in mid-February.

Noting in a statement that the activity was not deemed provocative or threatening since it breached neither U.S. nor Canadian airspace, NORAD explained that such encounters happen “six or seven times a year,” per ABC News.

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Alfredo Verde
Alfredo Verde
12 days ago

Want to stop the Russians from ever over-flying the Alaskan Airspace again? Shoot one of the down instead of turning them before they get “Feet-Dry”, as in over the actual land. Then offer to allow the Russian clean-up and recovery teams in to pick up the remnants of the plane and pilots they just wasted. Always let one of them witness and return to tell his fellows of the cold death the Americans gave them, WITHOUT A WARNING. Let them see the results of their years of aggravation and intimidation and threats. Alternatively, meet them at the usual distance from the American coastline without saying a word; fly alongside but not too close, and then when close to the turning point, fall behind them both with the rearward Russian able to see the position of the American Fighter behind his fellow bomber plane, and turn on their Air to Air Close Radar for the missile lock. Still not saying a word. Their systems will detect this and the unusual quiet of the friendly, talkative NICE American Pilots will un-nerve the most devout Agitator Bully. Then you might deliver the message of, No More Mister Nice American. And simply end the communication with, DO NOT COME AGAIN.

12 days ago

Under the laws of the SEA (and air which is basically the same overall), if the maneuver of the Russian aircraft was over international waters and if the drone had right-of way, then Russian needs to pay for the drive and its recovery from the sea.
With regard to dumping fuel omens the drone, that was not acceptable.
I suggest that we have a few surprises for the next Russian aircraft that wants to mess with US Drones in international waters. The trigger needs to be “safety off” with rules of engagement predetermined.