MOSCOW, October 24. /TASS/. US reconnaissance aircraft flew close to the Russian border during their flights over the Black Sea, Commander of the 4th Air Force and Air Defense Army of Russia’s Southern Military District Lieutenant-General Viktor Sevostyanov told TASS on Tuesday.
US Global Hawk strategic drones and manned RS-135 and P-8A Poseidon aircraft approached the southern Russian border at 10-15 km distance, the commander said.
According to the commander, the US manned reconnaissance aircraft and drones make special flights in the zone of the army’s responsibility with constant frequency.
"Global Hawk and RS-135 aircraft take off for reconnaissance from NATO’s forward airbase at Sigonella on the Island of Sicily while P-8A planes start their flights from the Souda airbase [Greece]. The basic routes of their flights run along the Black Sea coast from the western part of the Crimean Peninsula up to the traverse line of Sochi. During the flights, no violations of the state border were registered and the minimum distance from the border is 10-15 km," the commander said.
The fighter jets of Russia’s 4th Air Force and Air Defense Army scramble to define the type of reconnaissance aircraft and shadow them along the flight route, the general said.
"In 2017, our planes performed 100 such flights, of which operations to shadow drones accounted for over 70%," Sevostyanov said.
Such flights allow crews to practice the techniques of intercepts and shadowing and the skills to identify the type of aircraft, he added.
In response to a question about whether Ukrainian planes conducted reconnaissance near the Russian southern borders, the army commander said that "such flights are not performed at least because Ukrainian pilots simply do not have aircraft to fly."