Russian Su-30SM performed a Visual ID intercept on a U.S. plane over Syria

A Russian Su-30 conducted a VID intercept on a U.S. aircraft over Syria.

On Oct. 10, a Russian Su-30SM belonging to the contingent deployed to Latakia, in Syria, had a close encounter with a unspecified U.S. combat plane supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

According to Russia’s Ministry of Defense, the Flanker-derivative 4++ Gen aircraft was providing air escort for a package of attack planes in Syria when it approached the American plane, to perform a VID (Visual Identification).

The intercept “was not aimed at scaring off the US aircraft.”

According to RT, the Su-30SM, operating in Aleppo province, “detected radiation emitted from an unidentified aircraft and approached it to identify the bogie [unidentified aircraft in interceptor’s lingo].”

So, the aircraft was at an estimated distance of 2-3 km, when it detected the American plane and closed on it, to visually identify the unknown traffic. After the VID, the Russian plane rejoined the other aircraft it was escorting and continued its mission.

Nothing special then, besides the fact that these close encounters are exploited to collect some intelligence about the counterpart’s weapons systems: radio frequencies, sensors emissions and all the stuff ISR (intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) platforms can collect from distance.

Su-30SMs have been pretty active with their still largely unknown Bars-R radar, possibly exposing its “signature” to the ESM (Electronic Support Measure) sensors of nearby aircraft: few days ago, a Russian Flanker locked-on a TuAF F-16 for more than 5 minutes!

As already reported, this is not the first time Russian and U.S. aircraft come close to one another in the increasingly crowded airspace over Syria. In a few such incidents, Russian warplanes tailed U.S. Predator drones, at least a couple of times American aircraft reportedly changed their routing to deconflict with Russian aircraft.

One of such events saw the involvement of U.S. F-16s from Incirlik, Turkey, and some RuAF Su-34s.

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About David Cenciotti 4450 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance 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 four books.


  1. The article is right, they are collecting intelligence, it’s adding to their database the signatures of the western aircraft making a visual ID, that means the americans and EU countries will not fly the F-22 or other advanced aircraft anymore over Syria.

    • As the Western allies collect data on the Russian aircraft…..

      I’ll bet money that the US RC-135’s, etc, are FAR more adept at collecting ESM data than your Ruskie pals.

    • Good luck finding the F-22 with your weaker PESA radars and HUGE RCS found in the Su-30.
      Operational RCS of an Su-30… barn door at a 75degree angle…
      Operations RCS of an F-22… somewhere close to a small bird (humming bird).

  2. The Syrian Assad Government has been seemingly willing to let NATO aircraft fly into and over the country to conduct precision airstrikes… what has changed?

  3. Russia should warn the US jets that they entered Syrian airspace illegally, without being invited by Syrian government. After 3 warning, US jets must be shoot down.

    • Russia should mind it’s own business.

      It’s SYRIAN airspace, so it’s up to SYRIA to protect it.

      Using your flawed logic, then the US should go shoot down and attack those Russians in the Ukraine.

      • There haven’t been any russian aircraft in the ukrainian airspace. So it’s your logic that is flawed.

        On the other hand, Syrian government have officially invited Russia to protect its airspace and if requested, Russia have every legal right to shoot down other nations aircrafts that violate syrian airspace. But “fortunately” such request have not been made by syrian government,….yet :)

        • There sure are Russian soldiers, tanks and artillery in the Ukraine.

          Sober up, comrade…

          • This article is not about Ukraine. Your logic is flawed. Russia was invited to Syrian airspace. America was not and is violating it.

          • It’s very telling that the US has such advanced surveillance they can read a licence plate from space and can detect all Russian hardware and maneuvers but then, ‘somehow’ fail to notice ISIL convoys of Humvees and US spec Toyota pickups in open desert.

      • there is a cancer inside USA etablishment. they are crazy and do not care if the world ends. under clinton as sec of state they staged the libyan regime change and got the ambassador in tripolis killed, working against USA interests, against government. in syria they tryed very hard to topple assad but failed. yes assads are dictators and yes, they use(d) barrel bombs but so did the us forces in vietnam kambodia and laos and on other occasions.

        to make you understand, ISIS same as AL KAIDA is the creation of CIA and some hawks from the reagan era to further their geopolitical war. same as TALIBAN is the creation of pakistan ISI. for us this is very bad news. as ISIS will cut heads everywhere and they will never ever stop. they infiltrate the open and democratic societies and carry out atrocities same as in middle east and africa.

        the USA has send mercenaries and regular soldiers as “advisers” to ukraine, and they fly in syrian airspace without permission from UN or from syrian government. same as NATO. both syria and ukraine are proxy wars now which russia has stalemated and contained. mccain and nuland cry every day now. they deserve it and they deserve a den haag trial same as bush, clinton and obama.

        hope i made myself clear :)

  4. Russia should bring in some 20 SU 35 and a few T 50 to balance the number with US jets. Sooner or later Russian pilots must do what he should, in protesting Syrian airspace against US jet who are giving protection to thye terrorist trained and armed by Obama.

    • Does not make sense really to add more fighters, Russia have a very advanced AA equipment, like S-300, S-400, Buk m2, pantcir c1, etc which can assure no-flight zone for any aircrafts, despite how “advanced” they are

    • T-50 is still a prototype and need years (5 or more) to be deployed to active services..
      Moreover, SU-30 can do all the job now.

    • Russia brings 20 SU-35, the US deploys 80 Raptors… I don’t want to sound like a cowboy, but if there’s on field you can’t mess with the US in, it’s the sky.

    • The T-50 is still needs a couple of years (I’m guessing 5-10) before its ready for service. Also there are currently MORE active F-22s than there are Su-35s.

      • May be 30 to build 10 of this flawed plane…Theuy must still build many of the 40 su35 scheduled from 2012 to 2020…

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