Russia defends intercept of US reconnaissance plane over Baltic

A Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft makes a very-low altitude pass by the USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) in the Baltic Sea, on April 12, 2016.
A Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft makes a very-low altitude pass by the USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) in the Baltic Sea, on April 12, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - The Russian Defence Ministry said on Saturday (April 30) it had sent a fighter plane on Friday to intercept a US aircraft approaching its border over the Baltic Sea because the American plane had turned off its transponder, which is needed for identification.

The Pentagon said the US Air Force RC-135 plane had been flying a routine route in international airspace and that the Russian SU-27 fighter had intercepted it in an "unsafe and unprofessional" way.

CNN reported that the Russian jet had come within about 30m of the US plane and had performed a barrel roll.

"All flights of Russian planes are conducted in accordance with international regulations on the use of airspace," the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement. "The US Air Force has two solutions: either not to fly near our borders or to turn the transponder on for identification."