In a recent encounter in the skies over Syria, a Russian and American fighter jets flew so close to each other that the crew could feel the turbulence from the Russian jet, a US military official said on this Friday.
The incident Oct. 17 was described Friday by Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for the U.S. military coalition in Baghdad, who said the matter was immediately reported up the U.S. military chain of command and raised with Russian officers but deliberately not made public.
The Russian jet came within a half mile, which was close to the US plane, said Dorian. This was the so close encounter that the jet wash from the Russian jet could be felt by the crew in American plane.
This matter was immediately reported to the US military and also disclosed to the Russian officers but it was not made public.
Asked why the close call was not made public at the time, the spokesman said “because we have a de-confliction channel to discuss these incidents with the Russians.”
He said those talks are meant to be private “to do the exact opposite of turning it into a major incident. It’s really more intended to keep the temperature down between us and the Russians in that very crowded and confused, at times, battlespace.”
Concern about the possibility of accidental collisions between Russian and American warplanes over Syria has simmered for months. The two militaries, which often target different participants in Syria’s civil war, speak by telephone daily to “de-conflict,” or maintain safe separation of, each side’s aircraft. Dorrian said that channel was used the day after the incident.
U.S. officials see no “nefarious intent” in the Russian actions on Oct. 17, Dorrian said.