Defending its right to guard against unwanted encroachments by American reconnaissance aircraft over the Baltic Sea, the Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD) urged the Pentagon to ensure all safety precautions are taken by American aircraft approaching Russia to prevent misidentification.
On Friday, an American RC-135 surveillance aircraft was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 attack fighter in the skies over the Baltic Sea.
Russia claims the American spy plane had deactivated its transponder device, which allows for proper identification of unknown aircraft.
“All flights of Russian planes are conducted in accordance with international regulations on the use of airspace. The US Air Force has two solutions: either not to fly near our borders or to turn the transponder on for identification,” read a statement from Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov.
The statement also accused American aircraft of “regularly” approaching Russia’s frontier with inactive transponders, making it virtually impossible for validation of aircraft.
The Pentagon responded to the Russian MOD statement Friday, claiming the Russian fighter came within 100 feet of the American aircraft and had performed erratic and aggressive maneuvers, including a “barrel roll” as it passed over the U.S. plane.
“This unsafe and unprofessional air intercept has the potential to cause serious harm and injury to all aircrews involved,” Pentagon spokesman Commander Bill Urban said in a statement.
In April, tensions rose when Russian fighter aircraft performed several passes over the USS Donald Cook, which was conducting joint exercises with Polish military helicopters in the Baltic Sea.
[BBC] [Photo courtesy airheadsfly.com]