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Russian pilot unaware of coalition aircraft, his actions not hostile - US defense official

October 29, 2016, 21:53 UTC+3 WASHINGTON

The headquarters representative added that the distance was about 800 meters and "close enough that the Coalition aircraft felt the jet wash from the Russian fighter."

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© TASS/Marina Lysceva, archive

WASHINGTON, October 29. /TASS/. US-led coalition defense officials have found no hostility in the Russian pilot’s actions during the incident when a Russian Su-35 fighter jet and a US warplane had flown dangerously close in the air space over Syria on October 17, a US defense official at the headquarters of the US-led coalition’s operation in Iraq and Syria told TASS on Saturday.

"A review by the Coalition concluded the intercept was caused by loss of situational awareness by the Russian pilot and not a hostile action," he said, noting that the Su-25 was escorting a Russian ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) aircraft and "inadvertently flew across the nose of a Coalition ‘big airplane’."

The headquarters representative added that the distance was about 800 meters and "close enough that the Coalition aircraft felt the jet wash from the Russian fighter."

The coalition crew communicated with the Russian pilot after the incident and a day later the Russian side informed the coalition through the communications hotline that "the Russian pilot had been unware of the coalition aircraft."

Earlier in the day, Russia’s Defense Ministry said that the October 17 incident happened due to the violation of safety flight regulations by a US E-3 AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft as its pilot descended by almost one kilometer from the altitude and made a dangerous approach at less than 500 meters to a Russian Su-35 fighter. The incident took place in the air space east of the city of Deir ez-Zor.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said that in line with the Russian-US agreements, the command of Russia’s Aerospace Force’s contingent at the Hmeimim air base had notified the US counterparts in advance of the Su-35 flight in that area, giving the precise altitude (echelon).

Defense Ministry’s spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said, "In general, the incident has proved that Russian and US pilots had managed to establish quite sufficient cooperation to avoid such incidents in the future.".

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