A Russian fighter jet has intercepted a U.S. spy plane over the Pacific Ocean as the Russian military conducted a massive set of drills in the region.
The Russian Defense Ministry reported Thursday that “an air target approaching the State border of the Russian Federation was detected by Russian airspace control over the Pacific Ocean,” prompting Russia’s Pacific Fleet to scramble a Su-35 fighter jet. The Russian warplane identified the target as a U.S. Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance plane and was said to have escorted the incoming foreign aircraft away.
The RC-135 then conducted a U-turn away from Russian airspace and “violations of the State border of the Russian Federation were not allowed,” according to the statement. The Su-35, for its part, flew “in strict accordance with international rules for the use of airspace.
The latest incident comes as the Russian Defense Ministry announced that “an operational exercise of the heterogeneous forces of the Pacific Fleet is being conducted” in the central stretch of the ocean some 4,000 kilometers, or nearly 2,500 miles away, from the home bases of the vessels being deployed.
The exercises are set to include up to 20 surface warships, submarines and support vessels, such the Slava-class cruiser Varyag missile cruiser, the large anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Panteleev, the Udaloy-class frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov, the corvettes Gromky, Sovershenny and Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov andmissile range instrumentation ship Marshal Krylov.
“Within the framework of the exercise, the tasks of managing a heterogeneous grouping of forces at a considerable distance from the base points for the protection and defense of sea (ocean) communications,” the statement said, “as well as organizing the interaction of the operational grouping of ships and aircraft to search and track submarines and ship groupings of the mock enemy are practiced.”