WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Russian fighter jet flew so close in front of an aircraft of the U.S.-led coalition over Syria this month that the plane felt the jet’s wake, a U.S. coalition spokesman said on Friday.
On Oct. 17 the Russian jet passed within about half a mile (0.8 km) of the larger coalition plane, Colonel John Dorrian, a spokesman for the coalition, told reporters during a video news conference.
The Russian actions did not appear to have been “done with nefarious intent” and the two aircraft communicated, Dorrian said. He added that U.S. and Russian officials followed up the next day through a previously set up communication mechanism.
The incident highlights the risks over the complicated and crowded airspace over war-torn Syria as both the coalition and Russia carry out air campaigns.
“I think it is a significant enough incident that it required follow up,” Dorrian said. “We don’t like to fly our aircraft within a half a mile of each other, I can assure you of that.” Dorrian did not identify which country the coalition plane belonged to or what types of planes were involved.
The American and Russian militaries have a communication channel in place aimed at reducing the risk of collisions and other incidents, and top U.S. civilian and military officials speak by video conference with their Russian counterparts to discuss operation safety.
The incident follows similar close encounters between Russian and American planes. In September, a Russian fighter jet came within 10 feet (3 meters) of an American spy plane over the Black Sea.
Reporting by Idrees Ali and Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Alistair Bell and James Dalgleish