The Russian Defense Ministry (MoD) has released stunning footage of yet another intercept of a US spy plane over the waters of the Baltic Sea near the Russian border.
The short video of the engagement involves a Russian Su-27 fighter jet closely shadowing a large US Air Force aircraft, identified as an RC-135 reconnaissance plane. The fast and highly maneuverable Russian fighter aircraft pulls up behind the huge spy plane before advancing forward on the port side below the wing to align with the RC-135.
The Russian MoD released the video on Thursday, however, no precise time details regarding when the intercept took place were given.
The video was described by the MoD when uploaded to its official YouTube channel merely as, “Interception of targets by the Su-27 fighter over the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea."
Incidents like this one have become increasingly common since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
Back in November, the US complained about an "unsafe" intercept of another plane by an Su-27. As video of that incident showed the Su-27 made a pass directly in front of the mission aircraft. Moscow insisted that the pass was, indeed, safe.
The intercept of the US aircraft follows a similar incident in late January involving a Swedish surveillance aircraft that had been flying over the Baltic Sea.
As Popular Mechanics concludes:
These sorts of interceptions over neutral waters are very common and entirely within international law. This intercept seems safe, but others can be quite unsafe. In a 2017 incident a Russian fighter closed to within five feet of a RC-135, drawing sharp criticism from the Pentagon.
Both the Pentagon and European nations have in the past called Russia's engagements over neutral airspace near Russian borders "unsafe" and "unprofessional".
The US RC-135 possesses a wide range of intelligence gathering capabilities including the ability of geolocating electronic signals as well as identifying and analyzing the electronic emissions of potential adversaries. It can also drop in on communications, and as it's the size of an airliner it often has military Crypto Linguists onboard who can quickly decipher foreign communications and begin analyzing.
The US Air Force has an expansive fleet of the Boeing made RC-135 family of reconnaissance aircraft, and they've been deployed to various parts of the world of late, including to the Caribbean and near Venezuela.