RU Su-27 Intercepts US RC-135U Recon Aircraft

Russian Su-27 Flanker
Russian Su-27 Flanker

An American RC-135U reconnaissance aircraft was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker in the Baltic Sea.

The US RC-135U Recon Aircraft was performing a routine flight near the Kaliningrad airspace—Russia’s easternmost Oblast. Kaliningrad is detached from Russia’s mainland and is surrounded by Poland and Lithuania—two NATO member countries.

The Su-27 Flanker was scrambled after the reconnaissance aircraft was steadily making progress toward Russian airspace. According to Major-General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman from the Russian Defense Ministry, the American aircraft was flying without his transponder on.

“No emergency situation was reported during the fly-by of the American reconnaissance aircraft,” Konashenkov said.

Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Russian Upper House Committee for Foreign Relations, told NATO that “In connection with the incident over the Baltic one should keep in mind that Russia is a Baltic country, whereas the US is not.”

US RC-135 encounters RU SU-27 Fighte
US RC-135 encounters RU SU-27 Fighter. Source: Youtube capture (most likely from a game – ref only!).

However, FlightRadar24 confirmed via Twitter that the transponder was on.

Russia’s Su-27 identified the incoming aircraft as an American RC-135US recon aircraft and immediately reported it back to his headquarter. The Russian pilot then peformed many fly-bys around the RC-135U until it changed its course away from the Russian airspace.

US RC-135U recon aircraft
US RC-135U recon aircraft

The Pentagon denied the allegations and denounced the Russian pilots manners.

“On the morning of April 7, 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,” the Washington Free Beacon (WFB) cited Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen M. Lainez as saying.

“The United States is raising this incident with Russia in the appropriate diplomatic and official channels,”she added.

The US RC-135U was most likely monitoring Russia’s military activity in Kaliningrad. Since the recent deployment of Iskander mobile short-range ballistic missile systems in the Kaliningrad Oblast, NATO has been closely monitoring the situation.

NATO has built up a sizeable force along Russia’s western border. Adding to that, NATO’s Response Force has seen its numbers bolstered to 30,000 troops and have been conduct many joint multinational training in the Baltic States.

Russia warned NATO that recent intensification of military exercises in the Baltic States was “unprecedented and dangerous.”


Jonathan Wade, CD

Jonathan Wade is the director of the ‘The Sentinel Analytical Group’ and a decorated veteran of the Canadian Forces. Specialized in tactical, strategic, intelligence and geopolitics analysis, Jonathan has a fondness for technical details. His military experience brought him valuable insight on the realities of conflicts and war. A combat veteran of Afghanistan, Jonathan brings in in-theatre experience. Jonathan writes about Russia, Canada and Arctic.