Russian Fighter Jets Repeatedly Buzz US Destroyer

REUTERS/US Navy/Handout via Reuters

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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Four Russian military aircraft buzzed a U.S. guided missile destroyer in a series of “unsafe and unprofessional” incidents, a U.S. military official revealed Tuesday.

Russian fighter jets made low-altitude, high-speed passes at the USS Porter in international waters within the Black Sea Feb. 10, U.S. European Command spokesman Captain Danny Hernandez told Washington Free Beacon reporters. The offending aircraft included several Sukhoi Su-24 Fencers and an Ilyushin Il-38 surveillance aircraft.

Flying at 300 feet at a speed of 500 knots, one of the fighters came within 200 yards of the USS Porter in one particularly dangerous incident.

The USS Porter radioed all four of the Russian aircraft but received no response, Hernandez noted, adding, “Such incidents are concerning because they can result in accidents or miscalculation.”

The Russian fighters flew in with their electronic identifying transponders turned off. The transponders are monitored by defense personnel of U.S. ships and used to identify hostile and friendly aircraft.

The three recent incidents were reportedly less provocative than Russia’s buzzing of the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea in April last year with two Sukhoi Su-24 Fencers.

Two Russian warplanes flew dangerously close to a U.S. P-8A maritime patrol aircraft operating in the Black Sea in September.

The USS Porter took part in Sea Shield, an annual international military exercise, last week. U.S. participation “demonstrates the commitment to deploying leading technology and combat capability in support of allies and partners and collective defense of the Black Sea region,” the U.S. Navy reported.

The recent incident occurred at a time when the new U.S. administration hopes to improve U.S.-Russian relations.

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Ryan Pickrell