A passenger flight from Tel Aviv, Israel to Moscow, Russia was forced to rapidly change altitude to avoid a possible collision with a US spy plane over the Black Sea, Reuters reports Saturday based on Russia’s Interfax news agency. The incident in question reportedly occurred the day prior.
Reuters only identified that the incident was caused by a reconnaissance plane being present in the area, though stopped short of identifying which nation it belonged to. Russian media reports say it was a US spy plane, specifically citing “one of the two US spy planes that were spotted near Russian borders on the day.”
Russia’s military later released video of its fighter jets intercepting what appears to be a US spy plane, such as has been seen in many other similar encounters over the Black Sea. Media reports further described the incident as due to the spy plane’s “chaotic” and “dangerous” tactics.
“The Interfax source said air traffic control told the passenger plane to lower its course by 500 meters (1,640 feet),” Reuters said. “The news reports did not say which airline was operating the passenger plane, but Flightradar24 data showed that an Aeroflot flight from Tel Aviv to Moscow on Friday reduced its altitude for a short stretch over the Black Sea.”
Russia’s defense ministry (MoD) subsequently said Su-27 and Su-30 fighters were scrambled to escort the US spy planes away from coming near Russian airspace.
The US aircraft were identified in the MoD statement as a Boeing RC-135V Rivet Joint and a Bombardier CL-600 Artemis, according to Russian media reports.
Some outlets are claiming the spy plane and civilian plane came to within 20 meters of one another, but official sources have yet to confirm these reports.
Reuters in its report noted additionally the “incident happened on Friday when a spy plane crossed a civilian flight path.”