A Top Gun-evoking video showing US pilots scrambling to intercept Russian fighter jets near the Baltics may be a tad bit over-dramatic. The Russian MoD says the Su-30 jets were on an agreed-upon mission in international airspace.
In a statement released on Saturday, the Russian Ministry of Defense acknowledged that NATO F-15 jets had “approached” Su-30 fighter jets in two separate incidents – on November 23 and December 13 – near the Baltics, but said “the route of Russian fighter jets was agreed with the air logistics control units and was carried out in strict compliance with the international rules.” In both instances, F-15 fighters “approached at a safe distance, after which they changed course and flew away,” the statement added.
The clarification comes a day after the US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) released a creatively-edited video illustrating “intercepts during Baltic Air Policing mission.”
The video begins with footage from air drills dating back to 2014, which shows US pilots rushing to suit up as an ominous alarm is heard droning in the background. The video then cuts to the skies above the Baltics, circa 2017, as NATO F-15C Eagles approach two Su-30 Flankers.
The US Air Force claims the “interceptions” were necessary because in both instances, the Russian jets did not broadcast the appropriate codes required by air traffic control and had no flight plans on file.
The Russian Ministry of Defense insists that there was nothing out of the ordinary about the flights, which were in full compliance with international protocols. The US Air Force has acknowledged that the incidents occurred in international airspace.
However, that clearly did not prevent the US military from indulging in a rather dramatic re-telling of the unspectacular, routine events.