Russian jets intercepted by US F-22s over Syria, warning flares fired
Two US F-22 stealth fighters intercepted two Russian aircraft Wednesday after the Russian jets crossed the Euphrates River in Syria, flying east of the "de-confliction line" that is supposed to separate Russian and US-led coalition aircraft operating over Syria, two US defense officials report.
The US jets fired warning flares during the intercept of the two Russian Su-25 close air support jets according to the officials after they crossed the de-confliction line multiple times.
One of the officials said a Russian Su-35 fighter jet was also involved and that the aerial encounter lasted "several minutes."
The official said that coalition officers called their Russian counterparts about the incident via the pre-established de-confliction hotline.
After crossing the de-confliction line, the Russian Su-25s "were promptly intercepted by two F-22A Raptors providing air cover for partner ground forces conducting operations to defeat ISIS," Air Forces Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told CNN.
"The F-22s conducted multiple maneuvers to persuade the Su-25s to depart our de-conflicted airspace, including the release of chaff and flares in close proximity to the Russian aircraft and placing multiple calls on the emergency channel to convey to the Russian pilots that they needed to depart the area," he added.
Pickart accused the Russian pilots of dangerous flying during the encounter.
"One Su-25 flew close enough to an F-22A that it had to aggressively maneuver to avoid a midair collision," he said, adding that "during the incident, a Russian Su-35 also flew across the river and was shadowed closely by one of the F-22As."
He said the encounter lasted approximately 40 minutes before the Russian aircraft flew to the west side of the river, saying officers from the US-led coalition contacted the Russians on the de-confliction line "to de-escalate the situation and avert a strategic miscalculation."
President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to continue to uphold those de-confliction measures in their recent joint statement issued on the sidelines of the APEC conference in Da Nang, Vietnam.