Russian Su-24 performs insane flyby on U.S. Destroyer during simulated attack in the Baltic Sea

Russian Fencer buzzes USS Donal Cook.

According to CNN, Russian Su-24 jets performed a close flypast in the vicinity of the USS Donald Cook Destroyer, operating in the Baltic Sea, on Tuesday, Apr. 12.

AP agency reports that a similar incident took place on Wednesday Apr. 13.

At the time of the incident, a Polish Kaman SH-2G helicopter was carrying out ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) routine training operations from the American destroyer.

CNN’s report suggests that the incident could be viewed as a Russian message for Poland.

Commanders of the US Navy consider the Russian activities to pose a direct threat to the exercise, thus a submission of formal protest is being deliberated. The ship was operating within the international waters.

The Fencer aircraft that buzzed the US ship during the exercise made about 20 overflights, within 1,000 yards of the ship, as low as 100 feet – as the Navy Times release suggests. Training in the air was suspended in a response to the Russian activities.

Moreover, on Tuesday, a Russian Ka-27 Helix helicopter also made seven passes over the US vessel, appearing to gather imagery of the ship – as Navy Times reports. After that, yet again, Su-24 made 11 “very low simulated attack” passes over the ship.

Attempts to make radio contact with the Russian jet were unsuccessful.

According to the Navy Times, the jet was flying in a clean configuration, without any external stores, however, it flew only 30 feet off the ship. Moreover, the clip shows that external drop-tanks were hanging from the Fencer’s underwing pylons.

As the sailors quoted by the Navy Times suggest, the jet was low enough to create a wake on the sea waters, marking the aggressive character of the move.

U.S. Defense official, quoted by the Navy Times, claimed that the flypast is interpreted as a simulated attack, meaning that it may violate a 1973 treaty made between the US and Russia, banning this type of maneuvers.

Most probably, the Fencer came from one of the bases located within the Kaliningrad Oblast.

USS Donald Cook is a missile destroyer fitted with an integrated Aegis missile defense system

A similar incident occurred in April 2014, when a Russian Su-24MR, flew within 1,000 yards of the USS Donald Cook, that was operating in the Black Sea following the crisis in Ukraine: a show of force considered  “provocative and inconsistent with international agreements.”


About Jacek Siminski 286 Articles
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.


  1. Not sure what all the fuss is about. We used to do this sort of thing to the Soviets all the time during the good ol days of the Cold War. Especially the tattletales. Dump gas on them, fly attack profiles, supersonic flybys. Even rendezvoused on Forgers in their landing pattern. Good fun.

  2. Dear US Navy, please make sure the Israelis do not attack our ship with unmarked planes in the Black Sea and pull off a USS Liberty on us blaming Russia in the media.

  3. What’s the big deal anyway?! That Russian plane wasn’t even going that fast or coming that close to the destroyer. US navy f-18s have gone super sonic in San Francisco bay 30 feet off the water right past civilian sailboats.. now that’s irresponsible!

    But seriously there is much much more to this story than they are telling us. This exact same vessel, the USS Donald Cook, was also buzzed in 2014 near Crimea by Russian SU 24s. Maybe the Russians just don’t like a guided missile carrier right on their front door step. Maybe in both cases the Donald Cook was up to something we are not being told about…because that kind of thing NEVER happens!

    • What’s the big deal? Well Skynet, the big deal is the fact that that kind of moronic flying could end up in disaster. It’s a big deal because if the worst did happen, the Russians would cut off their nose to spite their face. They’d blame the US for shooting it down (even though we all know the pilots were probably drunk). They’d start a war instead of saying “yeah, our pilot’s completely forgot they are supposed to be pros and as a result, a SU-24 crashed into an Arleigh Burke class DDG”.

      There is nothing wrong with them making a pass or two and taking a few photos, just like the US does. The difference is they directly overflew the ship, which is a massive no-no in the maritime and aviation world. The difference is, they made twenty passes at an altitude where the flight crew could look up the ship’s crew’s noses. It’s a big deal because we were in international waters. US service members don’t endanger Russian lives ever. Especially not in international waters. It’s a big deal because my nephew, flying his toy-plane, is more professional than these Russian yahoos. Notice how their isn’t any footage or photos of American aircraft doing this? Unless of course, you think a sanctioned event, inside a sterilized environment, inside one’s own country, flown by the best demonstration team in the world, is the same thing. If that’s the case nobody can help you.

      This is the same country that tried to blame NATO for the Kursk incident by saying a NATO vessel rammed the Kursk. They screamed this at the top of their lungs for months. They screamed this while their own sailors drowned instead of allowing a Western country to save them. They screamed this for months….at least until the real story came out (piss poor Russian techniques and practices killed those men). This is the same country that just pulled something similar with a Flanker and American ELINT aircraft.

      The US, NATO, and basically every country on the planet except Russia (and China-Hainan Island incident) is capable of conducting these “meetings” without further endangering lives on both sides, or inflaming tensions. Even the Iranians can conduct intercepts with professionalism. If Russia wants to be taken seriously by the world, a good first step would be growing up. If Russia wants the world to see them as the United State’s equal, then maybe they should at least TRY to act like it. There’s a good reason Russia still sits at the kiddie table and is laughed at by everyone. I’d guess it has something to do with the fact they act like petulant children.

      • “even though we all know the pilots were probably drunk”? Do “we’, or is that a royal “we”?

        That makes everything else you wrote not worth the letters you wrote it with.

      • I watched the video and those passes were not even close to being a safety issue – the SU-24 at no point even came close to passing over the Donald Cook.

        About Russia not being taken seriously by the world; I think you now have a growing segment of the world that considers Russia’s foreign policies more professional than that of good ‘ole interventionist USA. One foreign war after another, instigating coups, attempting to topple elected governments, and drone strikes that kill more civilians than terrorists in countries they are not even at war with do not come off as professional. The USA goes stomping around the globe screaming that everybody needs (their brand of) democracy, meanwhile the two political parties that have ruled the country for almost 250 years each ignore the vote of the people and award delegates to the candidate approved by party elites. US government agencies illegally spying on the population, arrests and indefinite detention without warrant or trial…. Hmmm What a screw up of a country and you worry about some SU-24 in the Baltic buzzing a guided missile carrier on Russia’s front door?

        Your present day USA is starting to sound an awful lot like the old USSR. Meanwhile, today, Russians have freedom and more of it than the west. Today’s Russia is progressive in freedoms for it’s people and for the growth of privately owned small business. The people of Russia are wise to Amerkia; they have lived through what the USA is going into becoming and they don’t want your US brand of ‘democracy’.

        • Yawn. First of all, those SU-24s were blowing US and International aviation rules out of the water. I couldn’t care less what you THINK is dangerous does not apply. What does is international standards. Do some reading before you talk. According to both the FAA and ICAO, those aircraft were being operated in a illegal manner. And yes, it applies to military aircraft as well unless they’re in a prearranged, CLEAR, military aviation zone.

          More of how wonderful Russia is and how the US is evil. Double yawn. I wrote you off as an ignorant tool the second you said this:

          “Meanwhile, today, Russians have freedom and more of it than the west”

          Hahahha. Yeah, tell that to the LGBT community. Tell that to the media outlet. Tell that to imprisoned musicians because somebody didn’t like their style of music. Russia doesn’t have freedom of speech, which is the most basic thing Americans have. When Russians can talk freely i’ll shut up. Until then, I’ll keep laughing my ass of at idiots like you spouting pure idiocy. Until then I’ll keep feeling bad for the hundreds of thousands of Russians that aren’t dumb enough to buy the party line and are living a shit life. I’ve been to Russia on more than one occasion. I know my bedroom is bigger than the average Russians apartment. I’ve always traveled widely in the ex-Soviet Bloc states like Romania, Croatia/Serbia, etc. As a whole, they are all very happy with moves away from Russia and towards the US/West and NATO. If Russia is so great why are all their neighbors running as far as they can?

          Does the US have problems? Sure we do. But, that being said, Russia is still a solid 20-30 years behind the US in just about every industrial facet. Russia’s economy is a one trick pony and the ruble is in freefall. Russia is a lying, ridiculous, shit hole. For any problems the US has, Russia has an additional ten. Pull your head out Ivan.

          Open your eyes Putin-bot.

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