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Navy Ship Encounters Aggressive Russian Aircraft in Baltic Sea

From a U.S. European Command News Release

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STUTTGART, Germany, April 13, 2016 — A U.S. Navy destroyer operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea experienced several close interactions by Russian aircraft April 11 and yesterday, U.S. European Command officials reported today.

USS Donald Cook encountered multiple, aggressive flight maneuvers by Russian aircraft that were performed close to the ship, officials said.

Details of Encounters

On April 11, Donald Cook was conducting deck landing drills with an allied military helicopter when two Russian Su-24 jets made numerous close-range and low-altitude passes at about 3 p.m. local time. One of the passes, which occurred while the allied helicopter was refueling on the destroyer’s deck, was deemed unsafe by the ship’s commanding officer, Eucom officials said, adding that as a safety precaution, flight operations were suspended until the SU-24s left the area.

Yesterday, while Donald Cook was operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea, a Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter flew seven circles at low altitude around the ship at about 5 p.m. local time and were deemed unsafe and unprofessional by the ship’s commanding officer, officials said. About 40 minutes following the interaction with the Russian helicopter, two Russian SU-24 jets made 11 close-range and low-altitude passes, they added.

The Russian aircraft flew in a simulated attack profile and failed to respond to repeated safety advisories in both English and Russian, officials said.

“We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers,” Eucom officials said in a statement. “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 diplomatic channels to address the interactions, and the incidents also are being reviewed through Navy channels, officials said.