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Su-27 vs. RC 135: "That's Not an Intercept..."

Otherwise, the American pilot would have been reposing at a Russian air force base by now


This post first appeared on Russia Insider


The author is military correspondent for Russia’s most popular news source, Komsomolskaya Pravda, and one of the most respected military observers. In this comment, he explains what would have happened if a Russian Su-27 had really intercepted the US reconnaissance plane RC-135 over the Baltic Sea as the US military claim


Americans are acting like children when they wrongly use the word "intercept". In international aviation jargon, this word means that a plane uses "body movements" (its wings) to indicate to the offending plane that it must change its course.

<figcaption>"Intercept" has a specific meaning in aviation jargon</figcaption>
"Intercept" has a specific meaning in aviation jargon

Did the Russian SU 27 do that? No. Did the Russian fighter force the US spy plane to change its course? No. Did the Russian fighter force the US spy plane to land at an air base that it would have pointed to? No.

This US comedy should not be taken seriously. Americans will only stop complaining about Russian combat aviation when it ceases to fly.  They get nervous about everything: even when Russian planes fly in international air space, at a safe distance. We need to treat this as the US crying wolf, to paint an aggressive picture of Russia. For the world to take us for hooligans of sea and sky!

But these allegations make America look ridiculous in the eyes of professionals, who know what an intercept is. There isn't even the smell of one here. If there was, we would have seen the American spy plane land on one of the Baltic or Northern air bases. But we didn’t. The Russian plane flew its mission over international airspace and returned to its base, yet Americans claim they were intercepted: "seasonal affective disorder" is running rampant among political and military thinkers.


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