Here are some more shots of the Russian Su-24s buzzing a U.S. warship in the Baltic Sea

More impressive shots of the Russian flybys.

The U.S. Navy has released more photographs, taken from aboard USS Donald Cook, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer that was buzzed by Russian Su-24M attack aircraft on Apr. 12.

Although quite provocative, the low passes that the Russian Sukhois performed near the ship (within 1,000 feet once coming as close as 30 feet to the destroyer) had little to be worried about: the aircraft depicted in the photographs are unarmed Sukhoi Su-24M bombers, most probably conducting “simulated attacks” on the American warship at sea.

According to the Russian MoD the Fencers skirted the Donald Cook in international waters some 70 km from a Russian Navy base.

For sure, close encounters at sea occur: 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.”

On Mar. 3, 2015, Russian Su-30s and Su-24s aircraft from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet based in Crimea conducted attack runs on NATO warships operating in the Black Sea “to practice penetrating anti-air systems.”

On Oct. 27, 2015, USS Ronald Regan, sailing in international waters east of the Korean peninsula, had to scramble four Hornets after two Russian Navy Tu-142 Bear aircraft flew within a nautical mile of the U.S. Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

In 2008, USS Nimitz operating in the Pacific had to launch some Hornets to intercept and escort two Tu-95s approaching the carrier.

So, such close encounters have occurred since the Cold War and they have never really escalated even though there are rumors of U.S. Navy officers facing active jamming activities by some Russian planes in the past.

Nothing special then. At least, until something more happens…

Image credit: U.S. Navy


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. “Little to worry about?” How about a slight miscalculation at 400kts and 60 feet from the ship? Things could go really bad really fast. This stunt was a reckless and wonton display of Russian bravado / aggression / stupidity.

    • International waters, international airspace…Russian planes have all the rights to fly as low as they want over a ship..if American sailors are scaredy cats it’s not putin’s fault

  2. The message is clear: this is our backyard guys! You are at only 70 miles from Kaliningrad, so get use to this!.

    • 43 Miles. We don’t treat Russian military ships like this, not even when one was spotted 22 miles off the coast of Florida. Seems reckless to me, especially when passing only 30 feet away.

      • The Russian anchored off Florida coast was an unarmed intel gathering ship. Quite different from an offensive platform such as the guided-missile destroyer Donald Cook.

      • Yes reckless agree and US should respond in kind when Russian vessel passing by close to the US military base, but making a media campaign out of it is just another dirty trick

  3. Hopefully we “lit” them up so that all their warnings and alarms were going nuts… If they even had working passive defense at the time.

  4. The yanks crybabies are whining again. After the Donald Sitting Duck
    Cook had the previous encounter with Su24s two years ago, it turned
    tail, and ran to the nearest nato vassal port to take care of it’s
    shocked crew. Now the protagonists met again, at the second anniversary:
    the russkie pilots had their fun, and the yanks got a free air show.
    That’s how traditions are forged.
    OTOH, nato vassals are busy fanning the flames in Syria, at the yanks’ behest:

  5. Did anyone notice that the planes have no weapons on them? So wonder the Cook didn’t blow them out of the sky …

    • David Jizzarelli what are you talking about? Are you so frightened by unarmed planes that you want to shoot them down?

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