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. Is there any particular reason that the RC-135 can’t be accompanied by an escort or two? To ensure the safety of the RC1-35 during these airshows?

    “Freedom of the skies” for all, correct?

  2. These guys know full-well what they’re doing. They’re using differences in what the different sides consider ‘safe’ to deter the US from conducting these missions. They’re legal missions, but they’re spying missions nonetheless, so they’ll use “legal” countermeasures, that are detering nonetheless.

    Considering all the noise that is made regarding this (it’s even in mainstream news – in western countries other than the US!), I’m inclined to believe that the US are not at all pleased with this – not just for safety concerns, but for the threat that this poses to the viability of these missions as well.

  3. I wonder what the reaction from the U.S Air force would have been, if a Russian TU-214R flew 60 miles of the U.S west coast …

  4. How was the Russian response violent? Oh right, it wasn’t. Thanks for proving my point.

  5. The Washington-backed coup in Ukraine. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania need to bolster themselves. They could be next in Washington’s sights.

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