American sailors aboard the USS Donald Cook got one intimidating air show over the Baltic Sea yesterday. Russian swing-wing Su-24 Fencers made multiple simulated attack runs on their ship. The maneuvers were said to have been “extremely aggressive” and so low that wakes were kicked up in the water below the jets, Navy officials said.
Here are a few videos of the Russian Su-24's passes:
The aggressive maneuvers by Russian aircraft occurred both Monday and Tuesday. A Navy press release states that the events began after the USS Donald Cook left the Polish port of Gdynia on Monday. That afternoon a Polish helicopter was training with the destroyer when an Su-24 showed up. The jet would perform no less than 20 passes near the ship. This caused the USS Donald Cook to end flight operations.
The next day the Donald Cook was approached by a Ka-27 Helix helicopter which made seven flights over the ship, taking photographs while doing so. Not long after Su-24s arrived on the scene and began their simulated attacks, making 11 runs in all.
The Russian aircraft were radioed throughout their time near the Donald Cook in both Russian and English. There was no response.
“In my judgement these maneuvers in close proximity to Donald Cook are unprofessional and unsafe” Admiral Mark Ferguson, the Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, said in regards to the incident. The Navy added:
We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers. These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident that could cause serious injury or death.
U.S. officials are using existing diplomatic channels to address the interactions while the incidents are also being reviewed through U.S. Navy channels.
There was a similar occurrence nearly a year ago in the Black Sea, which also involved Russian Su-24 Fencers and a U.S. Navy destroyer. It also made headlines, although this recent case seems far more aggressive than the previous one, both by reports and by the videos released of the incidents.