Sunday, 14 December 2014

Russian Military Jet's Too Close For Comfort

A diplomatic and aviation row has broken out between Russia and Sweden after claims that a Russian intelligence jet came close to colliding with a passenger aircraft over the Baltic Sea.

Swedish officials claim the Russian military plane had turned off its transponders in order to avoid commercial radar and that it had nearly hit another plane belonging to the Scandinavian airline SAS. However, the spokesperson for the Russian defence ministry, Major General. Igor Konashenkov,  said the two planes were never less than 42 miles apart.  Added that the military plane was flying in international airspace and operating in compliance with the rules at a safe distance from civilian air passenger routes.

He also claimed that a NATO warplane had been flying between the Russian jet and the commercial aircraft.  Micael Byden, of the Swedish Air force  described the incident as “pretty serious”,  advising that the commercial flight was immediately ordered to change course when the Russian plane was detected, he said.

Russian has a recent history of encroaching on passenger aircraft, a much more serious incident took place in March when a Russian plane, again with transponders turned off, come to within 100m of an SAS plane outside Copenhagen.
Western countries say Russia has ramped up its military presence in the Baltic Sea after amid tensions with the West over the Ukraine conflict.  NATO also conducts air patrols over the Baltic. The Russian spokesperson said the number of flights by NATO warplanes along Russian borders has tripled in recent months.

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