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01:56 PM, April 14, 2016
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US Accuses Russia Of Flying Su-24 Aircraft Close To Its Warship
A Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft makes a very-low altitude pass by the USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) April 12, 2016. (Image: US Navy)

A United States Navy Destroyer operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea experienced several close interactions by two Russian Su-24 aircraft and Ka-27 Helix helicopter on April 11 and 12.

USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) encountered multiple, aggressive flight maneuvers by Russian aircraft that were performed within close proximity of the ship. 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 approximately 3 p.m. local, the US European Command said in a statement Wednesday.

One of the passes, which occurred while the Allied helicopter was refueling on the deck of Donald Cook, was deemed unsafe by the ship’s commanding officer. As a safety precaution, flight operations were suspended until the SU-24s departed the area.

On April 12, while Donald Cook was operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea, a Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter conducted circles at low altitude around the ship, seven in total, at approximately 5 p.m. local. The helicopter passes were also deemed unsafe and unprofessional by the ship’s commanding officer.

About 40 minutes following the interaction with the Russian helicopter, two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous close-range and low altitude passes, 11 in total. The Russian aircraft flew in a simulated attack profile and failed to respond to repeated safety advisories in both English and Russian.

USS Donald Cook’s commanding officer deemed several of these maneuvers as unsafe and unprofessional. We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers.

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 existing diplomatic channels to address the interactions, while the incidents are also being reviewed through U.S. Navy channels.

Russia has denied breaking any rules as it observed all safety measures while passing close to the US warship.

The Russian defence ministry said: "After spotting the ship, Russian pilots turned away from it in full compliance with safety measures.

"All flights of the Russian aircraft are in strict compliance with international rules of the use of air space above neutral waters."

The ship was sailing close to a Russian navy base, the ministry said.

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