Russian Su-27 barrel rolls on U.S. spyplane over the Baltic Sea. Once again.

Another day, another Top Gun stunt in the Baltic.

On Apr. 29, a Russian Su-27 Flanker “barrel rolled” over the top of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 which was flying a recon mission in international airspace above the Baltic Sea, the CNN reported.

The Russian interceptor approached alongside within 25 feet of the U.S. intelligence gathering aircraft and then flew inverted over the top of the plane to the other side, performing the same Top Gun-like stunt another Su-27 had carried out on a Rivet Joint over the Baltic on Apr. 14.

Still, such aggressive maneuvers are becoming dangerously frequent during the routine close encounters between American spyplanes and Russian fighters in the skies across the world. On Jan. 25, 2016 a U.S. RC-135 intelligence gathering jet was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter jet over Black Sea: during the interception, the Su-27 made an aggressive turn that disturbed the controllability of the RC-135.

On Apr. 7, 2015 another Su-27 flew within 20 feet of an RC-135U, over the Baltic Sea.

On Apr. 23, 2015 a U.S. Air Force RC-135U Combat Sent performing a routine surveillance mission in international airspace over the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan, some 60 miles off eastern Russia was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker that crossed the route of the U.S. aircraft putting itself within 100 feet of the Combat Sent.

So, it looks like these “aerobatic maneuvers” performed by the Russian Flankers out of Kaliningrad oblast are becoming a de-facto standard in interceptions carried out by the RuAF Su-27s over the Baltic Sea (unless it’s always the same pilot). A bit unprofessional and much dangerous.

Image credit: Crown Copyright


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. Its been conclusively shown the missiles were fired from Russian separatist held territory.

    Only trained Russian forces have the ability to operate the SA-11 which require trained radar operators and technicians to deploy. Plus you need a protected and defended supply and logistics chain. Only Russia can any of those things let alone all of them. Name me one other time, ever in history, where untrained separatists ever operated a radar guided SAM site. Its never happened. If you agree they are trained, you agree they are Russian military, ergo: Russia shot down MH17.

    • Didn’t the US Vincennes shoot down Iran Air 655? Not looking for moral equivalence, just noting that when military assets are around civilian assets (of another country) bad things occasionally happen.

    • It has not been proven. Just repeating claims is not proof. Ukrainian forces also operate SAMs of the same type.

      • Russian separatists brag about it on radio and in social media; Russia lies about it; it fits the pattern of separatist attacks on Ukrainian military aircraft; and the airplane had been flying over Ukraine for a while from West to East until it reached separatist territory in the far Eastern Ukraine so it was not a threat to Ukraine. Your denials are as weak as Russia’s.

        “Analysts said that both Buk variants could be found in Russian and Ukrainian arsenals, although Russia insists that they were withdrawn from active service several years ago.

        “This is not true,” Nick de Larrinaga, the European editor of IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, said Tuesday when asked about the Russian claims. He said that both Buk types and their launchers had been on display during Russian military parades and exercises in recent years.

        “It’s possible that they could have been withdrawn from front-line service, but they could still be in reserve service,” Mr. de Larrinaga said in a telephone interview from London. He added that a significant amount of older Russian military hardware had made its way to the battlefield during the Ukrainian conflict.

        Mr. de Larrinaga said that while the Dutch findings did not make it possible to categorically rule out the possibility that the missile that hit Flight 17 might have been of Ukrainian origin, he said other elements of the investigation pointed “conclusively” to the scenario that the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists. “There is no plausible military reason why this aircraft — which had been flying for some time over Ukrainian territory already — would have been considered a threat by Kiev,” Mr. de Larrinaga said.

        But, he said, the shooting down of Flight 17 fits with a pattern in the weeks preceding the disaster of Russian-backed rebels shooting down Ukrainian military aircraft entering rebel-controlled territory from the west.”

        • Your repetition of claims without proof are as weak as the propaganda of the Kiev fascist regime that wages war on its own people.

  2. They do not have the MONEY they had 20 years ago. (There, I fixed it for you.)

    The USA is still justifying a global-reach military and intricate military treaties, neither of which serve the interests of more than a narrow swath of Americans. All of this continually looks like the conditions that, in a series of missteps, led to World War One. The world has changed since 1991, but the USA is still busy bankrupting itself on Guns and Butter.

  3. Didn’t a Russian plane do this recently to a US guided missile ship? IIRC, the ship experienced a (reported) near complete shutdown.

    I’m waiting for someone to field a weapon that can direct what amounts to a cone of EMP. Given the near-complete dependence upon high tech electronics in aviation and warfare, the ability to bugger a plane’s or ship’s electronics would be decisive (and rather catastrophic for the plane’s occupants.)

    • No. That tired “report” has been used more than once and in almost the same format. No, it’s propaganda.

  4. Uh – no. Those aircraft are tasked to NATO missions. Those missions are being run for the very reasons you’re accusing the US of and are a reaction to Russian provocations.Russian airspace wasn’t violated, this took place in international air space.

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