This story apparently took place last month, right after Malaysia flight 17 was shot down over the Russia – Ukraine border area, but we’re only hearing about it now. A United States aircraft – a Boeing RC-135 – was performing reconnaissance of Russian forces when the Russians noticed, began tracking the craft using ground radar and dispatched a fighter jet to intercept it. Complicating the issue is the fact that the US plane took evasive action which included flying into Swedish airspace without getting permission to do so.
Once the crew on board the spy plane realized they were being tracked, they tried their best to get out of the area as soon as possible.
The closest escape from the Russians was in Swedish airspace where they entered without gaining clearance with the country first.
CNN reports that the United States is speaking with Sweden about the fact that they may need to enter Swedish territory in the event the U.S. needs to avoid the Russian military in the future.
The breach of territory was first reported by the Swedish Media outlet DN.se. But Russian officials have not yet replied with their reaction.
‘We acknowledge a U.S. aircraft veered into Swedish airspace and will take active steps to ensure we have properly communicated with Swedish authorities in advance to prevent similar issues before they arise,’ said the U.S. State Department.
This complicates things for the Swedes a bit, as they would no doubt prefer not to have the Russians thinking they were in cahoots on the plan. But with the US acknowledgement of the maneuver and meetings to make sure it doesn’t happen again, we’re probably giving them all the cover they need.
A bigger question comes from how brazen the Russians are getting lately in challenging our planes flying in international airspace. As the article reminds us, another US plane nearly collided with a Russian fighter during a game of chicken back in April over the Sea of Okhotsk between Russia and Japan. This is really reminiscent of cold war games which were taking place for many years. During the early 80s when I was deployed on an aircraft carrier in the western Pacific, our F-14s regularly got into all sorts of close calls with the Russians. It was something of a badge of honor among the pilots. The Russians also deployed “fishing boats” which followed us nearly everywhere. (Though why a fishing boat would have no nets and more antennas than a cable TV relay station was a bit of a mystery.)
Just yesterday we talked about the possibility of Putin making an overt move on the Ukraine. And now he seems to be putting on a bold front in terms of challenging the United States in terms of air power. Just what is this guy up to?