Last week, the U.S. Navy watched in the sky above the Mediterranean sea Russian single-seat fighter su-35 (NATO classification — “Flanker-E”) at high speed close to a distance of 7.6 meters to the spy plane P-8A Poseidon, has created turbulence for the American plane and put it “the pilots and crew at risk.”
A few days later, another su-35 made a similar maneuver, and also over the Mediterranean sea before flying anti-submarine patrol aircraft P-8A and splash him, exhaust from its jet engine.
Senior American officials in Europe and the United States Department of defense said that during both incidents the Russian pilots to behave in an unsafe and unprofessional manner. According to experts, although these incidents demonstrate a certain manner of behavior of the Russian armed forces, they also indicate that Russia is ready to benefit from the addition of resonance, which is similar aerial manoeuvres cause, even in the period of the pandemic.
Russia’s armed forces “as if trying to show everyone that they are still on the world stage, they’re still at the stage that they possess sufficient military power” said retired General Frank Gorenc (Frank Gorenc), former commander of US air forces in Europe. Gorani, who was the pilot of the F-15 Eagle, held the position of commander at the time of the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia, when the US sent their latest aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor, in the area of military operations in the framework of the missions for the demonstration of military force to deter Russian aggression.
“It’s not only pandemic that has now become a major problem for Western countries, but in the fall of oil prices,” he said during an interview this week. The last few weeks, Russia, one of the world’s leading oil exporters, is experiencing serious difficulties due to the unprecedented collapse in the oil market. “Weakening powers need to do something,” said Gorenc.
An opportunity to acquire fame
Unlike the cold war, when the pilots returned to base, reported about the executed interception, and then just moved on to his next mission, today overflights of foreign aircraft and other similar maneuvers to attract more attention and become more visible thanks to social networks, said Doug Barry (Doug Barrie), senior researcher at the International Institute for strategic studies.
“You know, today, information spreads very quickly, Barry said. — So every time you have to think whether there is an element of how it will be perceived in social networks and in the Western press, and how it will be useful.”
Interestingly, a participant of the recent incident was the Russian multi-purpose fighter su-35, which in the last few years have been considerably upgraded, according to Barry, this is a big step forward compared to previous interceptions involving the su-27 or su-24. “Perhaps there is nothing surprising in the fact that we began to see these aircraft more frequently than before. Su-35 looks fine”, — he explained. “Su-35 is an extremely powerful fighter, — said Gorenc. — Obviously, they’re trying to sell it. And it’s a great way to demonstrate its capabilities”.
Gorenc said that while such episodes do not occur too often, pilots must comply with the rules of engagement and try to be more predictable. Signed in 1972, the bilateral Russian-American agreement “On the prevention of incidents at sea and over him”, after which it was signed one more agreement on incidents at sea — documents that establish both countries the basic rules of behavior, allowing you to move safely in close proximity to each other.
As explained by Barry, to attract Russia to account for its behavior in international airspace can be difficult. “In a sense, these things are difficult to regulate at the legislative level, because it is actually reduced to the [behavior] of the individual units and pilots.”
Most often interceptions are undertaken in a safe manner, but oversights do happen — because of loss of communication or human or technical errors. For example, in 2018, the then General Peter Paul (Petr a Pavel), former Chairman of the NATO military Committee, told reporters that most of the takeoffs of the fighters on alert are considered as “regular situation”. “From time to time we see some provocative actions, especially in those areas where we have ships, planes, he said. — But to solve a dangerous situation or not, should the captain or pilot”.
Last week, air force General TOD Walters (Tod Wolters), commander of allied NATO forces in Europe described the first incident that occurred on April 15, the result of “unprofessional” behavior of the pilot of the Russian fighter, who acted at its discretion, and not a deliberate attempt by Moscow to arrange a provocation.
“My conclusion at the moment — it was more unprofessional than deliberately,” Walters said on April 16. “Given the unpredictability of the situation, it is necessary to ensure that the distance was safe, and don’t make any assumptions. It is not necessary even to assume that you see, because you can’t see it,” said Gorenc.
Russia is not going to retreat
As the United States, against the background of a pandemic, Russia is unlikely to back down from what she believes his military priorities, said Barry. “We’re not so different. You can see that now from NATO and the United States receives the following signals: Yes, we understand that pandemic is a serious problem, but we continue to follow the needs of national security on a daily basis,” he explained.
The head of the Northern command of the Armed forces of the U.S. General Terrence O’shaughnessy (Terrence J. O’shaughnessy) told reporters Tuesday, April 21, that the American army must remember that these enemies, like Russia, will try to use any weak points of the US and its allies in the period of the pandemic coronavirus. “We took up positions and prepared to respond immediately,” he said.
On Friday, April 24, the U.S. Secretary of defense mark Esper (Mark Esper) reiterated the same idea in his own statement. “Our opponents do not back down, he said. — We will continue to do everything possible to ensure that the [Ministry of defense] to defend the United States.” Barry added: “the incident with the Russian su-35 — this is partly just a reflection [of the reaction]. It’s just a reflection of what Russia is doing”.