A US Navy destroyer was repeatedly buzzed by Russian aircraft in the Baltic Sea, demonstrating increased aggression by Russian jets in the region. On April 11, two Russian Su-24 jets made “numerous, close-range, low-altitude” passes near the USS Donald Cook, which was conducting deck landing drills with an allied military helicopter, according to a US European Command release. The ship’s commander deemed the passes “unsafe” and flight operations were suspended until the aircraft left the area, according to the release. A day later, a Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter conducted seven low-altitude circles around the ship, which also were considered unsafe, while it was operating in international waters. About 40 minutes later two SU-24s made 11 “close-range and low-altitude passes” around the ship, states the release. “The Russian aircraft flew in simulated attack profile and failed to respond to repeated safety advisories in both English and Russia,” states the release. “We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers. These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident that could cause serious injury or death.” The ship was in Poland to enhance security in Central and Eastern Europe, according to a US Embassy in Poland statement. (Watch US Navy video of the Su-24s flying low over the flight deck and flying deck-level beside the ship.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.