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.


    • Don’t be fooled, the Russian area denial tech is up to the task. Look at our carrier group they have backed way off from the area where the Moskova has started patrols. That sizzler missle is flat out wicked. However, our PAC-3, RIM 174A (SM-6) can handle that threat pretty easily as show against the new GQM-163 Coyote.

  1. They obviously didn’t drop many bombs on them because the Russians sure are finding a lot of targets of opportunity that the U.S. missed.

  2. Kabong! I wish that was the case.. When Israel attacked the Syrian reactor it was an easy job, mostly due to excellent spy craft and surprise – i.e. great leadership and planning. Desert storm was not a contest, there were no Russian or top notch East block pilots flying against us. Our gusy kicked huge ass! look at the F15!! but that’s not peer – peer .. that does not teach us what is wrong with our force. kinda like this entire war in the middle east for the last 12yrs.. UNTIL NOW.

    The US and Russia get to test out a little bit more tech on each other and get the bugs out – works both ways, just like what is happening in Ukraine. What did we find there? that our radio equipment and software tactics were not up to snuff.. i have friends in SIGINT, they know their shit – but the freakin Malware division of the Russian ground force is something new, its peer peer battle tech fuzzed the f’n hell out of our systems (we quickly learned hard lessons and are now fully offensive again) You need peer peer to feel how good your enemy is, and the Red’s have always been THE enemy to the USA, and a damn capable one. Respect your enemy.

    what’s interesting about S300 and S400 is that they are probably the best tech the soviets have outside of their new SLBM Bulava. and they are locking up our planes just as easily as we do theirs.. except the F22 – that’s why they keep buzzing for visual confirmation, just incase they finally can spot the 22.

    The 40N6 missile is a mach 7 beast with NO EQUAL. its something amazing. we can shoot it down with the right SM6, or even small Rolling airframe missiles – the Evolved Sea Sparrow.. but barely and we had to build our own drone to find out.

    Now that

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