It seems that Russia’s interest in what kind of U.S. military hardware is operating in the Black Sea isn’t just limited to ships. CNN reports that a Russian fighter intercepted a USAF RC-135 electronic surveillance aircraft last month, roaring up to it at high-speed, with only ten feet to spare between the two aircraft.
Once the Russian fighter had intercepted the RC-135, it flew off its wing for some time before breaking off to shadow the plane from behind. No evasive actions were taken by the RC-135 crew according to the U.S. officials and no other details were available. The event is reported to have occurred on May 30th.
Ten feet would probably be a new record when it comes to hostile intercepts that have become seemingly commonplace since Russia invaded Crimea last winter and the massive geopolitical shift that came as a result of it. Both China and Russia have been accused of such antics, but 10 feet is a tiny amount of distance when you consider that an RC-135’s wingspan is 131 feet.
The intercepting aircraft was presumably one of the Su-27 Flanker series, known to be deployed to Crimea. It’s a huge aircraft, at least in fighter jet terms, with a wingspan of almost 50 feet. A small mistake by either pilot, or even heavy turbulence, could bring the aircraft together in a horrific collision at that short of a distance. Also remember that nobody aboard an RC-135 has an ejection seat, while the fighter pilot does.
This news comes as just one more sign that the tension between Russia and the U.S. is increasing and there seems to be nothing, or no one, able or willing to alleviate it.
Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.