US Official Says Russian Jet Fly-by “Straight Out of a Movie”
(CNN) — A Russian fighter jet buzzed dangerously close to a U.S. military plane in April, a U.S. official said Tuesday, describing the fly-by as “straight out of a movie.”
The Russian jet flew within 100 feet of the nose of a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane over the Sea of Okhotsk between Russia and Japan, a Defense Department official said.
The fly-by “put the lives of the U.S. crew in jeopardy,” the U.S. official said, calling it “one of the most dangerous close passes in decades.”
The incident occurred on April 23, the Defense Department official said, when a U.S. Air Force RC-135U aircraft flying on a routine mission over the Sea of Okhotsk was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker aircraft.
The Russian aircraft turned and “showed its belly” to the U.S. crew so they could see it was armed with missiles, a U.S. military official said Tuesday.
The United States did not originally discuss or reveal the incident publicly because it chose to deal with it privately with Russian officials, the military official said.
Earlier in April, U.S. officials said a Russian fighter jet made a dozen low-altitude passes over the USS Donald Cook in the Black Sea.
On April 28, a Russian Defense Ministry statement said Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had discussed both incidents during a phone call that day.
In response, the statement said, Shoygu “offered to instruct the commanders in chief of the armed forces of both countries to discuss possible additional measures to address the interests of both countries to prevent future misperceptions of actions.”
A Defense Department readout of that call didn’t mention the fly-bys.
On Tuesday, the Defense Department official said senior leaders had communicated concerns about the incident directly to the Russian military. And the U.S. official said it hasn’t happened again since.