New Video Shows Close Encounter Between NATO F-16 And Su-27 Flanker Escorting Russian Defense Minister Plane Over The Baltic

Exciting moments over the Baltic Sea as a Polish F-16 shadows a Russian VIP plane sparking the reaction by an escorting Su-27 Flanker.

Zvezda has just released some interesting footage allegedly showing a NATO F-16 approaching Russian Defense Ministry Sergei Shoigu’s plane while flying over the Baltic Sea.

According to the first reports and analysis of the footage, the F-16 (most probably a Polish Air Force Block 52+ aircraft supporting the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission from Lithuania – hence, armed) shadowed the Tu-154 aircraft (most probably the aircraft with registration RA-85686) carrying the defense minister en route to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad when one armed Russian Su-27 Flanker escorting Shoigu’s plane maneuvered towards the NATO aircraft, forcing it to move farther.

Some minutes later, the F-16 left the area, according to the reports.

Similar close encounters occur quite frequently in the Baltic region.

We have published many articles in the past about Russian aircraft coming quite close to both NATO fighters in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) duty and U.S. spyplanes: indeed, the latest incident comes a day after the Russian defense ministry said an RC-135 U.S. reconnaissance plane had aggressively and dangerously maneuvered in the proximity of a Russian fighter jet over the Baltic. The ministry said at the same time that another RC-135 had been intercepted by a Russian jet in the same area.

Business as usual….

H/T Lasse Holm for sending this over to us.




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. The Russian pilot should thank God real hostilities haven’t started because had they, that F-16 would have shot the Su-27 right out of the sky.

    • Uh huh – because your opinion is based on your extensive knowledge of Russian aircraft LOL!!

    • And what kind of “real hostilities” you would expect in international airspace? Also seems that the F-16 pilot realized quite well that he shouldn’t rather risk and should go away when he saw those “gifts” the Su-27 brought for him.

        • Why I shouldn’t? The Polish Air Force is one of the last ones which would really wish to get in some aerial confrontation with RuAF.

    • this scenario wouldn’t have occurred at all, if active hostilities were ongoing.

    • I mean I love the F-16 as much as the next guy but that Falcon is dead in the skies if something happens. It has an Su-27 to its rear quarter at close range. Before that Falcon pilot would have managed to execute any maneuvering he would have had to tango with some 30mm rounds or an Archer.

  2. It’s interesting to see that the Russians are still flying with R-27s (AA-10) rather than R-77s (AA-12). We know of the four main R-27 variants the SARH-guided R-27R/ER and the IR-guided R-27T/ET. I’ve always had a hard time confirming the other variants such as the active or the passive variants and seem more as they were concepts or prototypes and not actively made. While it’s impossible to tell if these are radar or IR guided, if they are the former that would be interesting to still see the Russians flying around with basically late-model Sparrows. We do still see Sparrows being fired by Eagles and Hornets in post-cruise and exercise videos but not often have I seen them flying patrols with them. While still effective, the AMRAAM is just lighter and less taxing on drag.

    • Russia only purchased a few R-77s back in the 90s and it’s likely they’ve all expired or were fired in exercises. They also might have never been as effective as their sales brochures make them out to be. It’s been reported that India is extremely dissatisfied with the quality of their R-77s.

    • That R-27 is a huge and heavy missile no wonder they only carry 4-6 missiles in real time CAP and not the silly 8-10 plus carried just for the cameras.

    • It’s also interesting to note that the Poles felt compelled to intercept a Tu-154.

      It’s a passenger jet. It has no weapons capability.

      Now, I suppose it’s possible that the Russians failed to file a flight plan for an international flight. Bad on them.

      But Kaliningrad is a recognized exclave.

  3. how much longer before one of these encounters turns into something everyone will regret? the whole airspace over syria seems like a tinder box to me… am i wrong?

    • Yes you are. This was over the Baltic Sea, I don’t think Russia is sending its defense minister over rebel-Syrian airspace anytime soon. Is Syria a mess? Yes.

      • And Italy is still buying F-35s with money they don’t really have. So what’s your point?

        Russia was far worse in the 90s when the oligarchs plundered the country without paying taxes. They even intended to sell Russian oil companies to US companies. Putin put a halt to that and that’s why he is the bad guy now (in the west). All the resources in Russia that are out of reach for the west!

        Madeleine Albright said herself that it is “unfair that the whole of Siberia with its immense resources belongs to Russia in its entirety”. That shows what they’re after.

  4. Russia is basically a giant gas station masquerading as a nation. With innovative US companies perfecting fracking and sending oil <$45/barrel for the foreseeable future, Russia is just a nuisance. We beat the Soviets with our economy, and we'll beat the Russians the same way.

    • That’s not gonna happen until there will be natural resources in Russia, and you can be sure that there is enough natural resources for whole centuries.

    • And nobody asks what the fracking does to nature and the ground water. The bill will come later.

  5. There was a F22 Raptor wing man escorting the F16 that the Semi Pollacks could not see, It would have shot that SU27 and the Defense Minister out of the sky. and nobody would never know what happened

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