Russia's reckless fighter jets continue to harass NATO aircraft over Syria

Over the last few days, Russian pilots over Syria have exposed NATO drones and fighter jets to "unsafe and unprofessional" actions.
Christopher McFadden
The Russian jets harrassed drones and fighters over Syria.


Over the last 48 hours, Business Insider reports, Russian fighters have harassed around six NATO aircraft over the skies of Syria. As per a spokesperson from the US, Moscow's pilots in the region have been exhibiting dangerous and unprofessional conduct, which seems to be an ongoing trend.

This follows news from a few months ago of Russian pilots harassing "Reaper" drones near Ukraine.

Unsafe and unprofessional

According to a statement from Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, commander of US Air Forces Central Command, during a mission against the Islamic State on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. local time, Russian Su-34 and Su-35 fighter jets approached an unknown number of US military MQ-9 "Reaper" drones.

During the encounter, flares were used by the former in a manner that endangered the safety of all aircraft involved, explained Grynkewich. In an unclassified video released by the US Air Force, the Russian jets can be seen launching flares at one of the MQ-9s as it flies above the drone.

On Thursday, Russian harassment was not limited to American drones as two French Dassault "Rafale" fighters carried out a security mission near the Iraq-Syria border were also bothered. As reported by US Central Command, the aircraft had to maneuver to avoid an unprofessional interaction with a Russian Su-35 jet. In response, the US Air Force stated that it fully supports French security missions across the region.

The exact engagement time between the Russian Su-35 and the French aircraft on Thursday remains unclear. However, there have been reports of Moscow's pilots engaging in aggressive actions near at least six NATO aircraft operating around Syria since Wednesday morning. On Wednesday at approximately 10:40 a.m. local time, three Russian fighter jets harassed a trio of US Reaper drones carrying out a mission against Islamic State targets.

During the encounter, pilots from Moscow released several parachute flares in the path of the "Reapers." One even flew their plane directly in front of an MQ-9 and turned on the afterburner, hindering the drone operator's control. "These events represent another example of unprofessional and unsafe actions by Russian air forces operating in Syria, which threaten the safety of both Coalition and Russian forces," Grynkewich said in the Thursday statement. "We urge Russian forces in Syria to cease this reckless behavior and adhere to the standards of behavior expected of a professional air force so we can resume our focus on the enduring defeat of ISIS," he added.

F-22s not deployed

Lately, American officials have expressed concern about risky behavior exhibited by Russian pilots near US interests in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, where the US has stationed a few hundred troops to fight ISIS. The US military recently sent a squadron of F-22 "Raptors" to the region for deterrence and to display strength against Moscow. However, officials have clarified that the primary objective of these aircraft is to carry out operations against ISIS. 

"The US Air Forces Central remains committed to ensuring the safety and security of its personnel and assets and continues to work closely with partners and allies to address these incidents and prevent any escalation of tensions in the region," Grynkewich said. "The safety of military personnel and the success of the mission against ISIS depend on the professional and responsible conduct of all forces operating in the region," he added.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board