Russian fighter jets are reportedly becoming more aggressive in confronting U.S. fighter jets in the skies over the Middle East as tensions between the two world superpowers continue to rise amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, who leads Air Forces Central Command, said that the Russians have become “increasingly bellicose in how they’re approaching us.”
“They’re maneuvering aggressively against us when our protocols would say we’re supposed to stay … several miles apart and just monitor each other,” he said. “They’re aggressively maneuvering, almost like they’re trying to dogfight, if you will. That’s very concerning.”
Grynkewich said that U.S. pilots have been instruct to not “take the bait.”
The general’s message to his pilots: “Don’t take the bait.” “We’re going to act in a professional manner, and we’re going to try to de-escalate the situation,” he added.
Grynkewich warned that the Russia Air Force was becoming less disciplined and that while he does not believe that they intend to fire on U.S. fighter jets, their provocations increase “the risk of miscalculation or someone just making a mistake.”
Last month, Russian pilots harassed and caused the downing of a $32 million unmanned MQ-9 Reaper drone in the Black Sea.
“Two Russian Su-27 aircraft conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept with a U.S. Air Force intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance unmanned MQ-9 aircraft operating within international airspace over the Black Sea on March 14, 2023,” U.S. European Command said in a statement. “Russian Su-27s dumped fuel upon and struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing U.S. forces to have to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters.”
— Guy Elster (@guyelster) March 16, 2023
A previous statement from U.S. European Command said that the two jets had repeatedly harassed the drone while the drone was “conducting routine operations in international airspace.”
“U.S. and Allied aircraft will continue to operate in international airspace and we call on the Russians to conduct themselves professionally and safely,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa.
The statement said that the incident followed a “pattern of dangerous actions” by Russian pilots while interacting with U.S. and Allied aircraft over international airspace that could “lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation.”