The U.S. Navy just released some incredible footage of the Russian Su-24 attack jets that repeatedly buzzed an American naval destroyer this week on the Baltic Sea.
The USS Donald Cook was operating in international waters around 3 p.m. local time on Monday when a pair of Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer twin-engine aircraft “made numerous, close-range and low altitude passes,” according to statement released Wednesday from U.S. European Command.
Subsequent flybys were so close — just 30 feet or so — that they created wakes in the water around the ship, the Associated Press reported. Indeed, the picture above and the video below shows just how close one of the twin-engine planes flew in proximity to the ship.
What’s more, the initial passes occurred while an allied helicopter was refueling on the deck of the destroyer, resulting in the ship’s commanding officer to suspend flight operations until the Fencers left the area, the command said.
The unusual activity continued on Wednesday, when a Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter flew several “unsafe and unprofessional” circles at low altitude around the ship (see image below), according to the statement. The Su-24s then returned less than an hour later to make nearly a dozen close-range, low-altitude passes.
“The Russian aircraft flew in a simulated attack profile and failed to respond to repeated safety advisories in both English and Russian,” the command said. “USS Donald Cook’s commanding officer deemed several of these maneuvers as unsafe and unprofessional.
“We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers,” it added. “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.”
Navy officials are reviewing the incident and diplomatic officials are exploring channels to address the matter.
While we wait to see if Russia releases footage of the incident (preferably from the cockpit of that Fencer that came closest to the ship), here’s one of the Navy videos: