Swiss Airbus avoids U.S. spy plane; Russia warns U.S.– Leave your transponders ON near our borders

From Fort Russ

“It’s a Boeing RC-135 of the type that the pilots had to avoid over the Sea of Japan”
Le Matin, May 25, 2016

Translator note: A transponder is connected to a plane’s altimeter, and answers radar with two points of information: the registration and the altitude. Further, an airplane’s onboard equipment to spot other air traffic also depends on the transponders in the other aircraft. (I am a pilot, and there is a transponder in my Cessna 150.) — Tom Winter

A Swiss Airbus avoids a US spy plane

Big scare for the pilot of a jetliner returning from Japan who quickly changed altitude on seeing an unidentified Boeing. [Further translation: dived!]

 Seeing a big plane over the Sea of Japan which did not emit any signal, the pilots of an Airbus of the Swiss company had only seconds to decide to change altitude and prevent a possible collision, reports the news agency Interfax.

The Ministry of the Russian Defense has since announced spotting a US Air Force RC-135 flying in the region with its transponder turned off for a reconnaissance mission. The American crew had provided no information to air traffic controllers while flying at about 11,000 meters, the altitude of civilian flights. In addition to the Swiss aviation, a KLM Boeing-777 aircraft also had to change course.

“Because of this lack of professionalism, the US plane was running the risk of a collision,” denounced the Russian Defense Ministry, adding that they have asked officials to take steps to prevent such incidents near its border.

In January, a US spy plane was intercepted over the Black Sea by a Russian jet, and in April it was over the Baltic Sea that a US aircraft had been intercepted. Following this latest episode, the Russian Defense Ministry officially asked the United States “not to approach Russian borders without turning on the transponders to be identified by our radar.”


April 7: Russian military intercepted U.S. spy plane, transponder off, headed for Russian border

From Sputnik News, April 11, 2015

The US RC-135U reconnaissance plane was flying towards the Russian border with its transponder switched off, a Defense Ministry spokesman said in Moscow Saturday.

Maj.-General Igor Konashenkov said that an unidentified airborne target was spotted over the Baltic Sea by Russian air defenders on April 7 flying directly towards the Russian border.

A Su-27 fighter jet was scrambled to inspect the target. Moving up to the unidentified aircraft the Russian pilot flew around it several times, made sure it was a US RC-135U reconnaissance plane and reported its tail number to ground control.

I want to emphasize that the RC-135U was moving towards the Russian border with its transponder switched off… As to the professional qualities of our pilots, this is something for the Russian military command to assess. Moreover, US reconnaissance planes  are supposed to fly along US borders only and nowhere else,” Konashenkov said, adding that no “emergency situations” were registered during Tuesday’s mid-air encounter.

A Pentagon spokesman said on Saturday that a Russian Su-27 jet fighter on Tuesday flew dangerously close to and nearly collided with a US reconnaissance plane over the Baltic Sea.

…”On the morning of April 7th, a US RC-135U flying a routine route in international airspace was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker in an unsafe and unprofessional manner. The United States is raising this incident with Russia through the appropriate diplomatic and official channels,” Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said in Washington.

The Su-27 conducted the close-in intercept in international waters over the Baltic Sea of an RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft, which was monitoring Russian military activities in western Russia and Kaliningrad.

US media try to persuade that the Russian fighter jet flew within just six meters of the reconnaissance plane in what is described as a “reckless” encounter that endangered the lives of the RC-135 crew.

The Russian  Defense Ministry earlier said that all flights by Russian military aircraft are conducted in strict conformity with internationally-recognized rules of flights in international airspace and over neutral waters without violating other countries’ borders.

NATO officials have in recent months complained about an increased presence of Russian military aircraft in European airspace, including over the Baltic Sea.

Russia’s Air Force Commander, Col.-General Viktor Bondarev, dismissed the reports as a propaganda ploy, meant to divert public attention from NATO’s ongoing military buildup in close vicinity of the Russian borders.

Posted on Fort Russ

April 11, 2015
Rossiyskaya Gazeta (
Translated by Kristina Rus

The official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, Major General Igor Konashenkov stated that American reconnaissance aircraft RC-135U was heading for the border of the Russian Federation. This is why a Russian fighter jet Su-27 approached it over the Baltic sea. This was reported by TASS.

According to Konashenkov, on April 7 at 13:18 Moscow time on-duty air defense forces over the Baltic discovered an unidentified aerial target, which was heading towards the Russian state border.

As a result a Su-27 fighter was raised, which approached the unidentified aircraft, flew around it several times, identified it as a spy plane RC-135U of the United States Air Force and its fleet number, which was reported to the command.

After the American spy plane was circled around by a Russian fighter jet plane, the U.S. air plane changed course and retreated from the Russian border.

It was also noted that the spy plane shut off its transponder. Meanwhile, according to Konashenkov, during the flight there were no emergency situations.

Earlier today the representative of the US Ministry of Defense, Mark Wright stated that the Russian Su-27 fighter flew dangerously close to the American reconnaissance aircraft in the skies over the Baltic sea.

It was reported that “the US is preparing to raise the issue through appropriate official diplomatic channels”.

The head of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, Konstantin Kosachev has urged the US to stop escalating the atmosphere around the flights of Russian military aircraft in the Baltic region.

“In connection with the incident over the Baltic sea it is necessary to remember about one thing: Russia is a Baltic country, and the United States is not,” – added the Senator.