A Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 ‘Flanker’ fighter intercepted a US Air Force surveillance aircraft Boeing RC-135 in international airspace at the Baltic Sea last April 7, an incident which the US government describes as unprofessional.
“The United States is raising this unprofessional incident with Russia in the appropriate diplomatic and official channels,” US European Command posts in its official micro-blogging account.
Russian defense spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said Russian fighter made the interception after “Russian air defense radars spotted an unidentified air target over the Baltic Sea making steady progress toward the national border – I want to emphasize that the RC-135 was moving towards the Russian border with its transponder switched off.”
“As to the professional qualities of our pilots, this is something for the Russian military command to assess,” the Russian spokesman told Russian press.
However, Flightradar24 website, which provides real-time info about thousands of aircraft around the world, says that “the US aircraft had transponder ON.”
US European Command adds, “to dispel rumors: US aircraft flying IAW ICAO flight rules in intl airspace was intercepted by Russian fighter in unsafe manner April 7.”
The Pentagon says the careless and unprofessional actions of a Russian pilot have the potential to escalate tensions between countries.