A Russian fighter intercepted a US Air Force RC-135 in an “unsafe and unprofessional manner” over the Baltic Sea April 14, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said during a Monday briefing. The Russian Su-27 came within 50 feet of the US surveillance aircraft, which was performing a routine mission in international airspace, and barrel-rolled over the top of it, Davis said. The encounter came just days after two Russian Su-24 jets and a KA-27 Helix helicopter repeatedly buzzed a US Navy Destroyer in the Baltic Sea. A Russian Su-27 intercepted a USAF RC-135U in a similar manner over the Black Sea in January. “There have been repeated incidents over the last year where Russian military aircraft have come close enough to other air and sea traffic to raise serious safety concerns,” Davis said Monday. The actions of a single Russian pilot, Davis said, “have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between the two countries.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.