Russia denies wrongdoing after jet barrel-rolls over U.S. aircraft
Washington (CNN)A U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane was barrel-rolled by a Russian jet over the Baltic Sea during a routine flight in international airspace, U.S. European Command said Saturday, but Russia disputed that account.
The incident Thursday occurred when a Russian jet “performed erratic and aggressive maneuvers” as it flew within 50 feet of the U.S. aircraft’s wing tip, Danny Hernandez, a spokesman for U.S. European Command, said in a response to a question from CNN.
Close encounters between Russian military aircraft and U.S. warships have become increasing common in recent months. In October, U.S. Navy jets intercepted two Russian Tu-142 aircraft that were flying near the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the Pacific Ocean.
In June, a Russian Su-24 jet flew within 500 meters (1,640 feet) of a U.S. guided-missile destroyer that was sailing in the Black Sea near Crimea.
The Russian aerial maneuvers come amid rising tensions on NATO’s eastern flank.
In February, the Department of Defense announced it was spending $3.4 billion for the European Reassurance Initiative in an effort to deter Russian aggression against NATO allies following Russia’s 2014 intervention in Ukraine.
In recent weeks, the U.S. has deployed additional military assets throughout Europe as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Air Force deployed F-15s to Iceland and the Netherlands and F-22s to the United Kingdom. And in February the United States announced it would send six F-15s to Finland for a training exercise and pre-position tanks and artillery in Norway. Both countries share a border with Russia.