In a rerun of what happened two years ago when in April 2014 a Russian Su-24 fighter jet flew repeatedly within 1000 yards of a US warship, CNN reports that the Pentagon is furious that while sailing in the Baltic Sea, US warship the USS Donald Cook had two "extremely close overflights" by unarmed Russian fighter jets.
According to the initial reports, two concerning encounters occurred Tuesday night in international waters. A third overflight, at a more acceptable distance, happened Sunday, according to the source.
CNN adds that the ship, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, also had a Polish helicopter on board as part of routine training, according to the official, leading to some speculation in military circles that the Russians were also "sending a message to Poland," the official said.
Navy officials are not commenting publicly, but inside the Pentagon there is an intense discussion about releasing video and still photos of the Russian encounter to demonstrate the danger the jets posed to the ship, a U.S. official told CNN.
A U.S. official described the Russian maneuver as "strafing runs" without firing any weapons. The unarmed Russian aircraft swooped in over the deck in the same flight profile that would have been used if an attack was underway.
A second U.S. defense official told CNN that the overflights were conducted by a Russian SU-24 and helicopter. Flight operations by the Polish helicopter were interrupted because one of the overflight was so close.
EUCOM added some additional details moments ago:
On April 12, while Donald Cook was operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea, a Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter conducted circles at low altitude around the ship, seven in total, at approximately 5 p.m. local. The helicopter passes were also deemed unsafe and unprofessional by the ship's commanding officer. About 40 minutes following the interaction with the Russian helicopter, two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous close-range and low altitude passes, 11 in total.
CNN reports that the Cook had been shadowed by a Russian intelligence-gathering ship for some time before the aircraft encounter. The U.S. crew had radioed the Russian ship that it was conducting routine operations, according to the official.
The Pentagon is livid because while there have been encounters between US ships and aircraft and Russian counterparts, this time Russia appears to have gone too far according to CNN sources.
Moments ago the US Navey released the following photos of the overflights.
And the following video clips:
U.S. Navy ship encounters aggressive Russian aircraft in Baltic Sea
STUTTGART, GERMANY - A United States Navy Destroyer operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea experienced several close interactions by Russian aircraft on April 11 and 12. USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) encountered multiple, aggressive flight maneuvers by Russian aircraft that were performed within close proximity 51 155 ship.
On April 11, Donald Cook was conducting deck landing drills with an Allied military helicopter when two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous, close-range and low altitude passes at approximately a p.m. local. One of the passes, which occurred while the Allied helicopter was refueling on the deck of Donald Cook, was deemed unsafe by the ship's commanding officer. As a safety precaution, flight operations were suspended until the SU-24s departed the area.
On April 12, while Donald Cook was operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea, a Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter conducted circles at low altitude around the ship, seven in total, at approximately 5 p.m. local. The helicopter passes were also deemed unsafe and unprofessional by the ship's commanding officer. About 40 minutes following the interaction with the Russian helicopter, two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous close-range and low altitude passes, 11 in total. The Russian aircraft flew in a simulated attack profile and failed to respond to repeated safety advisories in both English and Russian. USS Donald Cook's commanding officer deemed several of these maneuvers as unsafe and unprofessional.
It is unclear if Russia was simply, as the CNN source says, sending Poland a message, or if the Su-24 pilots were just being friendly