There has been some discussion here and elsewhere as to what the U.S. /the U.S. Navy should have done/should do in reaction to the Russian “provocation.”
Here are some excerpts from an article in the Navy Times titled, “This is why the Navy didn’t shoot down Russian jets.”
It is based on a conversation with a retired Navy commanding officer, Capt. Rick Hoffman, who reviewed photos and videos from the incidents.
According to the Times, Hoffman concludes that the buzzing was definitely provocative but not a “credible threat.”
“Well, we’re not at war with Russia,” Capt. Rick Hoffman said. “It would be one thing to be operating and have a threatening attack profile from someone who might not recognize me — that’s not the case here.”
If you have visual identification of the jet, can see it isn’t carrying weapons, and don’t detect any electronic emissions suggesting there was a missile lock on the ship, there’s nothing to be done.
“You don’t get to kill people just because they’re being annoying,” said Hoffman, who commanded frigate DeWert and cruiser Hue City. Cruisers are the fleet’s foremost air defense platform and are tasked with guarding flattops from incoming threats.
While there is a possibility that the “simulated attack” might violate a 1973 treaty between the U.S. and Russia, Hoffman says that the incident “amounts to showboating.”
Hoffman adds that things might be different if such an incident had occurred in the Persian Gulf with an Iranian aircraft.
The Times concludes:
It’s more likely that the stunt will end up as a public relations tool for Russian President Vladimir Putin, showing force against the Americans operating in his backyard.
“It would be real interesting to see what shows up in the Russian papers in the morning, how they play it,” Hoffman said. “It’s not that different from North Korea. He does something and then he plays it domestically however he needs to play it for the purposes of getting his people energized.”
Well, this morning Russia’s Defense Ministry “rejected complaints by U.S. officials who claimed Russian attack planes buzzed dangerously close to a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Baltic Sea earlier this week,” according to the Military Times:
Russia’s Defense Ministry has rejected complaints by U.S. officials who claimed Russian attack planes buzzed dangerously close to a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Baltic Sea earlier this week.
Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said Thursday that the pilots of Russian Su-24 jets saw the ship and turned back “while using all measures of precaution.”
Konashenkov said he was baffled by what he described as the “distressed reaction of our American counterparts.”
I am sure most have by now read or heard about the latest Russian provocation in the Baltic Sea.
The U.S. Navy has also provided several videos of the “close encounter” recorded at various times — into the evening hours. Three of them follow this article.
“STUTTGART, Germany (NNS) — A United States Navy destroyer operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea experienced several close interactions by Russian aircraft on April 11 and 12.
USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) encountered multiple, aggressive flight maneuvers by Russian aircraft that were performed within close proximity of the ship.
On April 11, Donald Cook was conducting deck landing drills with an allied military helicopter when two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous close-range and low altitude passes at approximately 3 p.m. local. One of the passes, which occurred while the allied helicopter was refueling on the deck of Donald Cook, was deemed unsafe by the ship’s commanding officer. As a safety precaution, flight operations were suspended until the SU-24s departed the area.
On April 12, while Donald Cook was operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea, a Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter conducted circles at low altitude around the ship, seven in total, at approximately 5 p.m. local. The helicopter passes were also deemed unsafe and unprofessional by the ship’s commanding officer. About 40 minutes following the interaction with the Russian helicopter, two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous close-range and low altitude passes, 11 in total. The Russian aircraft flew in a simulated attack profile and failed to respond to repeated safety advisories in both English and Russian. USS Donald Cook’s commanding officer deemed several of these maneuvers as unsafe and unprofessional.
A Russian Kamov KA-27 Helix closely surveils the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook while the ship was operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea, April 12, 2016. The USS Donald Cook is forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, and is conducting routine patrols in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. U.S. Navy photo
“April 11-12, USS Donald Cook was operating in a professional manner in international waters conducting operations and exercises with our allies in the Baltic Sea.”
“In my judgement these maneuvers in close proximity to Donald Cook are unprofessional and unsafe.”
-Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, Adm. Mark Ferguson
We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers. These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident that could cause serious injury or death.
U.S. officials are using existing diplomatic channels to address the interactions while the incidents are also being reviewed through U.S. Navy channels.”
Lead photo: A Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft makes a very low altitude pass by USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) April 12, 2016. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.