Another close call as Russian jet maneuvers close to US spy plane

Another close call as Russian jet maneuvers close to US spy plane

Another close call as Russian jet maneuvers close to US spy plane

A US Air Force reconnaissance plane was barrel-rolled by a Russian SU-27 fighter jet in an "unsafe and unprofessional" manner during a routine flight in international airspace, American officials said today, exacerbating tensions between the rival powers.

The incident on Thursday occurred when a Russian jet "performed erratic and aggressive maneuvers" as it flew within 50 feet of the US aircraft's wing tip over the Baltic Sea, Danny Hernandez, a spokesman for European Command, said.

The Russian SU-27 began the barrel roll from the left side of the US RC-135 and went over the top of it to end on the right side of the aircraft, European Command said.

The US aircraft was "intercepted by a Russian SU-27 in an unsafe and unprofessional manner," Hernandez was quoted as saying by CNN.

He said that the US plane never entered Russian territory.

"The unsafe and unprofessional actions of a single pilot have the potential to unnecessarily escalated tensions between countries," said Hernandez, who added that the US is protesting the incident with the Russian government.

This encounter comes just days after the US Embassy in Moscow issued formal concerns with the Russian government over an incident in which Russian fighter jets flew very close to the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea this week.

One of the Russian jets flew within 30 feet of the Cook's ship superstructure, according to a US official.

Close encounters between Russian military aircraft and US warships have become increasing common in recent months. In October, US Navy jets intercepted two Russian Tu-142 aircraft that were flying near the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the Pacific Ocean.

In an incident in June, a Russian Su-24 jet flew within 500 meters of a US guided-missile destroyer that was sailing in the Black Sea near Crimea.

The Russian aerial maneuvers come amid rising tensions on NATO's eastern flank.

In February, the Department of Defense announced it was spending USD 3.4 billion for the European Reassurance Initiative in an effort to deter Russian aggression against NATO allies following Russia's 2014 intervention in Ukraine.

In recent weeks, the US has deployed additional military assets throughout Europe as part of 'Operation Atlantic Resolve'.

Earlier this month, the US Air Force deployed F-15s to Iceland and the Netherlands and F-22s to the United Kingdom.

In February, the US announced that it would send six F- 15s to Finland for a training exercise and pre-position tanks and artillery in Norway, both countries share a border with Russia.

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