Russian jet came within five feet of US plane

Hernandez is a U.S. European Command spokesman.

An armed Russian jet flew within 20 feet of a Navy reconnaissance plane for almost five minutes over the Black Sea. He says the close encounter was unprovoked by the USA aircraft. This fall, Russian moved nuclear-capable ballistic missiles to Kaliningrad, putting most American bases in Europe in strike range.

For example, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation aircraft had four separate close encounters with Russian planes in a single day in February, the Air Force said. The vast majority of encounters with American military planes are conducted in a safe manner, officials said.

It's not known how many US crew members were on the plane.

Navy Capt. Danny Hernandez says the Russian pilot was flying at a high rate of speed and had poor control of the aircraft. Russia, which is aligned with the Syrian government and carrying out military operations in Syria alongside it, condemned the incident and said Monday that it would track USA aircraft over Syria.

"Regarding the alleged "provocativeness" of the flight, we'd like to stress that in just 10 minutes [after the incident] another RC-135 entered the same zone and it was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 as well", the statement reads.

But Russia disputes the American account, saying the United States plane made a "provocative" move towards their jet.

About 10 minutes later, another U.S. surveillance plane arrived, and it too was intercepted by a SU-27 jet, the ministry said.

However, Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis denied the Russian accusation, saying "We were operating in global airspace and did nothing to provoke this behavior". Despite protests from the Syrian government, which requested Russia's military backing in 2015, the US has set up an operations base to train and assist anti-government groups fighting ISIS.

  • Leroy Wright