MESOP FLASH : First on CNN: Russians ‘barrel roll’ over another U.S. Air Force plane
By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent – Updated 2138 GMT (0438 HKT) April 29, 2016
Washington (CNN)A Russian SU-27 conducted a “barrel roll” Friday over the top of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 which was flying a reconnaissance mission in international airspace above the Baltic Sea, the Defense Department said.
The Russian SU-27 approached alongside within 25 feet of the U.S. aircraft and then flew inverted over the top of the plane to the other side, Lt. Col. Michelle L. Baldanza, a U.S. Army spokesperson, said in a statement.
“The SU-27 intercepted the U.S. aircraft flying a routine route at high rate of speed from the side then proceeded to perform an aggressive maneuver that posed a threat to the safety of the U.S. aircrew in the RC-135,” Baldanza said.
The U.S. considers this a very unsafe aerial maneuver and is expected to voice its concerns to the Russians, a U.S. defense official told CNN.
This is the second barrel roll maneuver over a U.S. aircraft by the Russians this month. On April 14, a Russian jet “performed erratic and aggressive maneuvers” as it flew within 50 feet of a U.S. aircraft’s wing tip, Danny Hernandez, a spokesman for U.S. European Command, said in a response to a question from CNN.
READ: Russia denies wrongdoing after jet barrel roll
In that incident, an RC-135 aircraft also was intercepted by a Russian SU-27. The Russian SU-27 began the barrel roll from the left side of the U.S. RC-135 and went over the top of it to end on the right side of the aircraft, U.S. European Command said.
This also comes after two encounters earlier this month in the Baltic Sea between the Navy missile destroyer USS Donald Cook and two Russian jets. In one of those incidents, a Russian jet flew within 75 feet of the ship.