U.S. F-16s came within 20 miles from Russian Su-34s in Syria

CBS News was given access to CENTCOM radar image showing U.S. and Russian planes not too far one another: yellow aircraft are Russian,  green ones are American.

Some “close encounters” between U.S. and Russian aircraft operating over Syria have already occurred in the last few days according to Lt. Gen. Charles Brown, commander of the American air campaign in Iraq and Syria, in an interview given to CBS News

U.S. F-16s out of Incirlik, Turkey, first picked up the Russian planes (Su-34s in the animation shown in the video linked below) on their radars. The RuAF jets closed to within 20 miles from the F-16s, a distance where the American pilots could visually identify them by means of their targeting pods.

20 miles away

How the sort-of engagement ended is not specified but according to Lt. Gen. Brown, the Russians have come even closer than that to his unmanned drones.

Click here to watch the CBS News video.

Yesterday, Turkey reported two violations of its airspace by Russian aircraft out of Latakia Syria. Newsworthy, in one of the incident, a Mig-29 (that the RuAF has not deployed to the theater) or a Su-30SM (reports are still contradictory), locked on a Turkish F-16 for more than 5 minutes.

Image credit: CENTCOM / CBS News

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. Considering the distorted (damn those widescreens) heading picture (supposed
    map on centcom radar) is correct, then at least somebody is heavily lacking
    geographic skills. If you approximately pinpoint the depicted positions
    of the nearest su34, and f16 on a real undistorted map, you’ll get about
    120km (that’s 74miles for those metric challenged).
    Just slapping a “20 miles” caption on a screen still doesn’t change reality.
    su34: between Zaghbeh – Umm Muwaylat
    f16: between Akhtarin – Sousian

    • The map is not supposed to show the exact moment when the two parties came within 20 miles each other.
      The General said the closed to 20 miles but we don’t know for sure when the released CENTCOM image was taken.

  2. I’m pretty sure the U.S. and their NATO lackeys didn’t get permission from the internationally recognized legitimate sovereign government of Syria for permission to overfly their country and into their airspace, but Russia did.

      • The CIA and State Department overthrew a democratically elected government and replaced them with their lackey who was throwing out the welcome mat for NATO to move into Ukraine and the former Soviet naval bases in Crimea. You get what you play for.

    • Yet Syria isn’t really doing ANYTHING to stop “US and their NATO” lackeys are they?

    • Here is what a USAF general said about the Raptor’s “buggy avionics and weapon systems” …

      + “The F-22s make other U.S. aircraft more survivable. It really is enabling all the rest of the team,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told The Associated Press. “Perhaps this is a good model to think about for the future.”

      + “Their mission is getting the bombs on target, on time, finding the right target and minimizing collateral damage,” said Cameron. “The more time they have to focus on that part of the mission, the more successful we’re going to be in the long run. So, the F-22 … it’s another eye in the sky, if you will, to help them focus on the mission.”

      + “The greatest capability the F-22 brings is its integrated avionics, its’ fused avionics that facilitate situational awareness,” Harrigian said. “It is not just for the pilot in the airplane, but really for the entire package that is going to execute the mission.”

      here is an article about the F-22 from this very site…


      If anything F-22s are acting more like forward ISR asset and force multiplier elements to other friendly assets in the region…

      seems like the Raptor’s “buggy avionics” aren’t buggy at all. Also here is the F-22’s “wonky” weapon systems…
      (skip to time index 4:22)

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