Moment Russia fighter jet flies 'dangerously' close to US special forces surveillance plane

18 July 2023, 12:44

The US Air Force released video of a Russian SU-35 near a MQ-9 Reaper drone
The US Air Force released video of a Russian SU-35 near a MQ-9 Reaper drone. Picture: US Air Force

By Asher McShane

This is the moment a Russian jet flew close to a US surveillance aircraft in Syria, with officials saying the jet put the American crew’s lives at risk.

The ‘dangerous’ close pass, which happened just before 7am GMT on Sunday, has been taken as an escalation of a string of close encounters between US and Russian aircraft in recent weeks.

US officials said the Russian SU-35 fighter displayed a new level of unsafe behaviour that could have resulted in an accident or loss of life.

The American crew involved were at the controls of a MC-12 twin engine aircraft on surveillance in support of counter Islamic State operations on the ground in Syria, officials said.

Russian fighters buzz and harass US aircraft over Syria

On several occasions in the last two weeks, Russian fighters have flown close to US drones, setting off flares and forcing them into evasive manoeuvres.

Russia is currently trying to pressure the US into leaving Syria. There are currently about 900 US forces personnel in Syria with others deployed depending on ground operations and missions targeting Islamic State militants.

The US is currently considering ‘a number of military options’ to counter Russian aggression in the skies over Syria.

Earlier this month the Russian disruption complicated efforts to launch a strike against an Islamic State leader. The US was eventually able to launch a strike and kill the target.

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