Russian aircraft on Oct. 10 again flew within 20 miles of US combat aircraft over Syria, an incident that occurred at the same time US and Russian officials were meeting for the second time ?to establish safety protocols to avoid any incidents. Coalition spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said there has not been any protocols finalized yet, despite the groups meeting for the third time via teleconference on Oct. 13. However, both the Russian and US pilots involved “conducted themselves appropriately” and continued on their mission, Warren said. The aircraft were between 10 and 20 miles apart and US pilots were able to visually recognize the Russian aircraft. “There’s always going to be some risk of uncoordinated actors in the battlespace,” he said during an Oct. 13 briefing. “It adds risk. Both US and coalition pilots have extraordinary situational awareness. … Everyone knows where everyone is.” While there have been few incidents involving manned aircraft, most of the encounters between the US and Russia have included American remotely piloted aircraft. Russian aircraft approach the RPAs “to take a close look.” So far, there has only been one incident from early in Russia’s operations in Syria where US aircraft decided to approach its bombing target from a different direction to avoid the Russian aircraft.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.