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WASHINGTON, April 11. /TASS/. US authorities claim that Russia’s Sukhoi Su-27 fighter has flown dangerously close to a US intelligence plane RC-135, Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen M. Lainez is quoted by the Washington Free Beacon online publication on Saturday.
A Russia Su-27 jet fighter flew dangerously close and nearly collided with a US reconnaissance aircraft this week in the latest aerial provocation by Moscow, defence officials said. The Su-27 conducted the close-in intercept of an RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace over the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, said officials. The incident prompted a diplomatic protest.
"On the morning of April 7th, a US RC-135U flying a routine route in international airspace was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker in an unsafe and unprofessional manner," said Eileen M. Lainez. "The United States is raising this incident with Russia in the appropriate diplomatic and official channels," she said in a statement.
A defense official said the Russian fighter jet flew within 20 feet of the unarmed reconnaissance jet in what the official called a "reckless" encounter that endangered the lives of the RC-135 crew. No details were available regarding the mission of the RC-135, which was in a position to monitor Russian military activities in western Russia and Kaliningrad, according to the publication.
The RC-135 is a militarized and upgraded Boeing 707 jetliner that can be configured for several types of intelligence gathering, including photo, nuclear monitoring, and electronic spying. The RC-135U variant involved in Tuesday’s near collision is code-named Combat Sent and conducts technical intelligence gathering on enemy electronic signals and radar emitters, according to the publication.