Russian spyplane nearly collided with Airliner off Sweden. Again.

Russian planes that operate close to airspaces of northern European countries pose a threat to civil aviation.

A civil plane, en route from Denmark to Poland, almost collided with a Russian spyplane minutes after departure, Swedish authorities said on Friday.

The Russian aircraft was flying with the transponder turned off; the Swedish Air Force scrambled its JAS-39 Gripen jets to intercept and escort the “intruder”, that they identified as an intelligence gathering type (most probably an Il-20 Coot).

According to, the flight involved in the near-miss was SK1755, a Canadair CRJ-200 (registration OY-RJK) from Cimber Airlines departed from Copenhagen, with destination Poznan.

Based on the analysis of the ADS-B data they collected, the dangerous close encounter occurred about halfway between Ystad, Sweden and Sassnitz, Germany, between 11:21 CET and 11:25 CET.

Here’s how the incident developed:

11:18: SK1755 got permission to climb to 25,000 feet
11:21: SK1755 urged to stop the climb at 21,000 feet due military traffic between 23,000 and 25,000 feet.
11:23 SK1755 advised to turn right to avoid military traffic.
11:24 SK1755 reached 21,000 feet and stopped climbing.
11:24 SK1755 passed just behind the military plane and then allowed to continue the climb.

At this link you can see the Sk1755 turn to the right to avoid the collision and stop climbing to 21,000 feet. Obviously, you can’t see the Russian plane, as it was flying, in international airspace, with the transponder turned off, hence invisible to civilian radars.

Near collision Sweden

Image credit:

The near collision comes in a period of intense Russian Air Force activity in the Baltics; a surge in missions that are flown without FPL (Flight Plan) nor transponders (sometimes to probe local air defenses readiness) that may pose a threat to civilian traffic in the region.

On Mar. 3, SAS flight SK 681, a Boeing 737 with 132 people on board from Copenhagen to Rome almost collided with an Il-20 Coot, about 50 miles to the southwest of Malmö, Sweden. Thanks to the good visibility, the SAS pilot could avoid the Russian SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) aircraft:the two planes passed 90 meters apart.

Russian Air Force bombers, including Tu-95s, Tu-22s, Su-34s escorted by MiG-31s and Su-27s, as well as Il-20s regularly fly in the Scandinavian region causing alert scrambles by NATO planes providing QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) for the Baltic Air Policing mission.

Top image credit: French Air Force


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Given the Russian track record on the truth I’ll take that claim with a very large grain of salt…

    • Still there is no reason to believe the Swedish side, report it unreflected and disregard the statement of the other side. I for one see no reason why the Russians should be endangering civil aviation. Their planes got all the means necessary to prevent it from happening and the Swedish military loves creating panic about the Russian threat (we all know they want to be in NATO but the politicians don’t).

  2. They are doing the same thing, but it doesent fit in to the rules of propaganda warfare to tell what our side is doing, in fact the Swedish airforce was on of the most aggresive airforces when it came to surveilance flights in the end of the 19 century and a little bit into 2000.

  3. Dear mr. Cenciotti,
    still agitpropping?
    Regurgitating NATO/swedish lies won’t make your blog any more credible. We get enough of that in the western, and it’s colonies, MSM.
    The part with the “invisibility” is the most hilarious one to date. The radar echo without transponder response might not offer identity/altitude information to SSRs, but it’s far from “invisible”.
    As for the off transponder of he big bad russkie planes, it’s just another example of western double-thinking. It’s not required by law in international airspace, and western “special”/military flights don’t care to use it either.
    FR24 uses ADS-B (which is different from the transponder altogether, and not required by law at all, for the time being), for which everything in the air not broadcasting it would be really “invisible” (or “nonexistent”, if you wish), as you should better know.
    PS: Censoring inconvenient information, or opinions isn’t the hallmark of a “free” press.
    BTW, any news about the “russian sub”, from the swedish friends?

  4. Yah, Airplanes regularly fly at 1000ft vertical separation at those altitudes, and only 500 ft at lower altitudes.

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