There have been accusations made recently by Russia regarding a potentially explosive encounter in Syrian airspace between their tactical aircraft and U.S. fighters, namely, F-22 Raptors.The Pentagon says they have no clue what Russia is talking about and that the claimed encounter didn't happen. They went on to detail how many times on the day in question Russian aircraft crossed unannounced into "deconfliction zones" assigned to the U.S. and the coalition (nine times). This new flurry of "he said-she said" is set among a near endless series of so called or "unprofessional" intercepts between Russian fighters and American and allied aircraft that have occurred over the last three years.
These incident reports have gotten so regular that we no longer report on them unless something about them is especially odd or if they may have greater geopolitical ramifications. But it seems that Russian pilots don't like to fly "very dynamically" just around foreign aircraft, they also to buzz their own brethren up in the flight levels as the fairly awesome video below shows.
The aircraft being buzzed appears to be an Su-30, while the one doing the flyby is likely an Su-35. Both aircraft are clearly armed with an air-to-air loadout, including R-73s, R-27s, and on the Su-30, what appears to be an R-77—otherwise known as the "Amraamski." Both aircraft also carry "Khibiny" electronic warfare pods on their wingtips. The R-77 is of unique interest because it hasn't been seen too often flying on Russian aircraft over Syria, at least not until relatively recently. And Syria is possibly, if not probably, where this video was shot.
As for the big question on your mind—"was this safe?"—without getting too deep into the weeds here, let's just say that American crews don't seem to make parallel, maneuvering, high-speed passes on each other at that distance. The Russian Air Force may have a different tolerance for this sort of thing and that's their prerogative. But the video may lend a little more credibility to the claims of U.S. and allied aircrews who say that Russian Flanker derivatives have performed all types of "unprofessional" flybys and aerobatics around their aircraft while flying in international or "neutral" airspace.
But without digging into too much conjecture, above all else it does make for an awesome video!
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com