A United States F-22 warplane and a Russian F-35 jet was involved in an incident of apparent intimidation over Syria when the latter “rapidly approached” the former which itself was “hampering” two Russian Su-25 fighters escorting an aid convoy.
The Russian Defence Ministry’s version says that the incident took place Wednesday in the vicinity of the Syrian town of Mayadin, when two Su-25 close air support jets were escorting a humanitarian aid convoy. A US F-22 stealth fighter approached the aircraft from across the Euphrates river, firing flare decoys in front of them in a maneuver interpreted as an act of intimidation.
The Russian Defense Ministry said however, a Su-35 fighter jet, which was providing air cover to the Russian planes, “rapidly approached” the F-22 from the rear and the US warplane left the area afterwards.
The US version of the incident as reported by AFP says that a pair of US F-22 warplanes intercepted two Russia jets over a part of Syria they were not supposed to be operating in, the Pentagon said Thursday.
At one point during Wednesday's incident, the American F-22 Raptor stealth fighters deployed chaff and flares to convince the Russian Su-25s to leave the area, and one US pilot had to "aggressively manoeuvre" to avoid a mid-air collision, AFP said quoting Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon.
The Pentagon comment makes no mention of the presence of a Su-35 in the area.
The Russian Defence ministry is stressing that the incident occurred above the western bank of the Euphrates River, dismissing the Pentagon version that the Russian planes were allegedly operating over the eastern bank, which refer to the two sides’ mutually agreed areas of operation.
“Two F-22s went too close to a pair of Russian jets so we had to use the de-confliction channels,” a US Central Command (CENTCOM) told Sputnik on Thursday. “This is not something extraordinary... It happens sometimes several times a day.” The official has also confirmed that the militaries of the two countries have discussed the incident.
The Russian ministry of defence said that a similar incident occurred on November 23 when a Russian Su-35 was forced to chase away a ‘rogue’ US F-22 jet.
“The F-22 launched decoy flares and used airbrakes while constantly maneuvering near the Russian strike jet, imitating an air fight,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said last Saturday.