17 Russian Combat Aircraft “Buzzed” British Royal Navy warship HMS Duncan in the Black Sea near Crimea

An interesting “close encounter” in the Black Sea was captured on video.

During the filming of a documentary, UK’s Channel 5 captured interesting footage of a Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer “buzzed” by Russian fighter jets off the coast of Crimea, in May 2018.

The video, embedded below via the Daily Mail, indeed shows several Russian Navy (and probably Air Force) jets, including Su-30SM Flanker derivative and Su-24 Fencer jets flying in the vicinity of HMS Duncan.

Considered what happened on Sunday, when the Russians seized three Ukrainian vessels imposing a naval blockade of the passage to the Sea of Azov, there is been some media hype surrounding the “close encounter” that UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson described as a sign of “brazen hostility” from Russia.

A map released on Nov. 26 by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine that shows the Russian bases and assets in Crimea and/or close to Ukraine. (Image credit: General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine)

Here are some key details about the May incident:

  • the British warship was 30NM off the coast of Crimea
  • it’s not clearly specified in the documentary, however, the aircraft flew close (rather than “over”) the destroyer, at different times: this means that the 17 jets did not stage a massive attack on the warship (that was reportedly leading a NATO fleet in the Black Sea)
  • the flybys on HMS Duncan are not even comparable to those conducted by some Su-24s, in the Baltic Sea, in 2016. Take a look here.

A new Channel 5 documentary captured the dangerous moment as HMS Duncan led a Nato fleet through the Black Sea in May.

Interestingly, the personnel aboard HMS Duncan issued radio warnings to the Russian jets to remain outside 2NM from the destroyer otherwise the emissions of the high-power radars of the ship could cause damage.

If you can’t open the embedded video click here.

Russian Su-24 Fencer often conduct these “overflights” in the Baltic and Black Sea: in 2017, Su-24s attack jets flew close to the Royal Netherlands Navy Frigate HNLMS Evertsen, operating in the Baltic Sea; as already metioned, in Apr. 2016, some Su-24s performed as many as 20 overflights, within 1,000 yards of the ship, as low as 100 feet and 11 “very low simulated attack” over USS Donald Cook destroyer in the Baltic Sea. Two years earlier, in April 2014, a Russian Su-24MR, flew within 1,000 yards of the very same US Navy destroyer that was operating in the Black Sea following the crisis in Ukraine. At that time, a show of force considered  “provocative and inconsistent with international agreements.”

More recently (on Thursday last week), the crew of the Belgian Navy command ship (A960 Godetia) participating in minesweep-mission, was surprised by the low-level flyover of two Russian Su-24 in the Baltic Sea. A Belgian frigate (F931 Louise-Marie) operating in the same area had to temporarly suspend an Air Defense exercise and keep an eye on the Su-24 “threat” to the other belgian vessel.

H/T Jean-Paul Van De Walle for providing details about the “Belgian Navy incident”.

Top image credit: Royal Navy/Channel 5


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.