Air meetings between the United States and Russia: ‘the biggest danger is miscalculation’

He is referring. There, off the left wing, a blue and white twin-engine fighter jet appears briefly before diving out of sight. Russian Air Force The plane just buzzed, warning that the US military should tread carefully here on the edge of the Crimea.

It is a heavily militarized region, and although US military reconnaissance missions like this take place regularly in international airspace over the Black Sea, Tensions flared up between Russia and the United States, as well as its allies in the region.

It was a safe encounter. Most of them, although 90% of US reconnaissance flights over the Black Sea like this one from the Sigonella Naval Air Station in Sicily, have been intercepted by Russian aircraft, according to the US military. But the US Navy crew could not be complacent.

“The biggest danger is miscalculation. The Russians frequently intercept these aircraft. They tend to be very professional and safe, but sometimes, they can be unprofessional,” says Capt. Tim Thompson, Commander of the US Naval Task Force 67.

This trip is one of the Several times every week the US military makes a show of force to Russia and gives clear reassurances to NATO allies in the region that it is committed to protecting them.

The US Navy P-8A crew uses aircraft and radar cameras to search the Black Sea for unknown assets, including Russian military aircraft and ships.  They spotted 10 warships and seven Russian aircraft during the flight.

In the cockpit of the US Navy’s P-8A Poseidon, its pilot, Lt. Daniel Loudon, explains why these air confrontations can get an adrenaline pumping.

“We don’t really know what any other plane is doing,” says Loudon. “It could be an unpredictable pilot, maybe a new pilot or something … that can always be a challenge.”

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Russian fighters are fast, smart, and able to change direction or height in an instant.

The P-8A is based on the Boeing 737, one of the most popular aircraft models on the planet. The P-8 is a very responsive and fun to fly aircraft, says Loudon.

But it is designed to fly straight, not close encounters with the screams of combat aircraft.

This is exactly what the US Air Force’s B-52 bomber crew faced on August 28, when two Russian Su-27 aircraft crossed the nose of the massive US bomber over the Black Sea. A video recorded by the US military shows one of the aircraft flying very close and the turbulence it created inside the bomber.

Sevastopol, in the Crimea, seen from window P-8A.  Crimea, which Russia occupied and annexed in 2014, is home to the Moscow Fleet in the Black Sea and the US Navy monitors Russian military assets stationed here.
Three months ago, on May 26, two Russian Su-35 fighters simultaneously flew both sides of a US Navy P-8A aircraftHis ability to move was restricted for 64 minutes. The Russian Defense Ministry denied the US accusations on numerous occasions.

Russia’s alleged aggressive behavior adds danger to the complex geopolitical environment over the Black Sea, which is an important shipping lane for many NATO allies such as Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey. It is also vital for Ukraine and Georgia, both of which are NATO partners, whose disputes with Moscow are far from resolved.

Russia invaded Georgia In 2008 and still behind separatist forces in the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In 2014, the Ukrainian region of Crimea was occupied and then annexed.
A US Navy personnel uses a P-8A camera to track a Russian Kilo class submarine as it sails across the Black Sea.
Admiral Anthony Carrollo, director of operations for the US Navy in Europe, says these missions are becoming more important as Russia It increases its activity Not only in the Black Sea, but also in the Mediterranean, Baltic, Barents, and Arctic seas.
Over the past few years, and with the deterioration of the relationship between Russia and the West, Moscow has increased the number of military exercises, flights and patrols that it conducts in these areas around Europe, Investigate the continent’s defensesSays Carolo.

Russia has repeatedly denied the accusations, saying it only responds to NATO’s provocations.

The US military again accuses Russian aircraft of & # 39;  Insecure & # 39;  Aerial meeting

“We are here constantly watching them and seeing what activities they are intending to do,” says Carolo, adding that he sends a message. “It is a message to all potential adversaries and a message to our partners and allies that we are here to support them.”

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What the CNN crew saw during this trip seemed to confirm the Admiral’s view. The P-8A cameras captured a dozen Russian warships, including a Kilo class submarine and seven military aircraft.

There were also US B-52 bombers flying in the immediate vicinity and three NATO warships were sailing below.

Inside the P-8A, all of this activity is monitored by some of the most advanced surveillance technologies on the planet, including state-of-the-art radar and infrared cameras, which are operated from five workstations on the aircraft’s port side.

“We’re looking for a variety of things,” says Lieutenant Hollis Kennedy, mission commander. “Russian fighters will not report in the civilian AIS (automatic identification system), and as you have seen, we were able to pick them up and then approach them, get to know them, recognize them and send this information.”

Harold Manning

"Infuriatingly humble social media ninja. Devoted travel junkie. Student. Avid internet lover."

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