Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Military News

Russian fighter plane buzzes U.S. Navy jet as fears over midair collisions mount

BERLIN — In the latest in a string of dangerous encounters between Russian and NATO military jets, a U.S. Navy plane came within five feet of a Russian Su-27 jet on Monday, according to the State Department. The incident occurred in international airspace above the Black Sea, raising renewed concerns over the risk of midair collisions in Europe.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that the United States considers the incident to be of "the highest level of concern," calling it only "the latest example of Russian military activities disregarding international norms and agreements."

Provocative Russian behavior, especially since 2014, has set off alarm bells across Europe over the last few years.

Last June, a Russian fighter jet similarly came within a few feet of a U.S. reconnaissance plane over the Baltic Sea. It then lingered by the side of the U.S. plane for minutes, U.S. military officials said at the time.

A report issued in 2014 by the European Leadership Network, a London-based think tank, documented almost 40 incidents that together "add up to a highly disturbing picture of violations of national airspace, emergency scrambles, narrowly avoided midair collisions, close encounters at sea, simulated attack runs, and other dangerous actions happening on a regular basis over a very wide geographical area," according to the report. The report was only compiled for 2014 and not for the subsequent years.

At the time, the think tank reached the conclusion that Russia was not actively trying to provoke a full-blown conflict with NATO but that its actions nevertheless "could prove catastrophic" because of the risk of unintended escalation. Russian officials have rejected those accusations, with former Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak saying that the unusual frequency in dangerous encounters was the result of an increase in military training flights.

But in the worst case, some of the documented incidents may have resulted in mass-casualty accidents. On March 3, 2014, the pilots of a Russian reconnaissance aircraft — which apparently had not transmitted its position — nearly collided with a passenger plane that had just taken off from Copenhagen, according to the European Leadership Network. The pilots of the civilian SAS 737 plane with 132 passengers aboard managed to avoid a collision, thanks to good visibility.

Unlike Monday’s dangerous encounter above the Black Sea, most of 2014’s reported incidents occurred around the Baltic Sea and the North Sea.

Whereas some of the documented incidents have involved U.S. planes, European aircraft still recorded the most encounters. In mid-January, British Air Force jets scrambled to intercept Russian bombers near the country’s airspace, amid growing concerns of Russian activity near Britain.

Over Christmas, British ships and a helicopter were also dispatched to track what officials said was an "upsurge" of Russian naval vessels passing near its waters.

Russian submarines have also stepped up activity around undersea data cables in the North Atlantic, according to my colleague Michael Birnbaum. The cables which NATO officials fear could be targeted by Russian submarines provide Internet and other communications connections to Europe and North America, representing vital data lines.

The Russian submarine activity — unprecedented since the Cold War — has sparked NATO hunts, involving a number of U.S. Navy tracking flights. If anything, the airspace above Europe only appears to be getting busier.

Comments
CentCom’s Votel: U.S. will stay in Syria to fight ISIS and keep an eye on Iran

CentCom’s Votel: U.S. will stay in Syria to fight ISIS and keep an eye on Iran

TAMPA — In March, President Donald Trump said he would be pulling U.S. troops out of Syria "very soon." But they’re still there, and will stay there, to defeat what’s left of the so-called Islamic State, says the man in charge of military efforts in ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
As special ops conference opens in Tampa, CentCom works to ease commandos’ burden

As special ops conference opens in Tampa, CentCom works to ease commandos’ burden

TAMPA — As thousands of people flock to Tampa for the annual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, the general in charge of U.S. forces across the Middle East along with Southwest and Central Asia said efforts are underway to reduce the stra...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Trump announces he will nominate acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to become department’s permanent leader

Trump announces he will nominate acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to become department’s permanent leader

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced Friday that he plans to nominate Department of Veterans Affairs Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie to become the department’s permanent leader, noting that the decision may come as a surprise to Wilkie."I’ll ...
Published: 05/18/18
McDonald’s giving away free food to military members today

McDonald’s giving away free food to military members today

TAMPA— All current and former military service members in central Florida can stop by their local McDonald’s and grab a free burger today.In celebration of Military Appreciation Month, McDonald’s is giving away a "Taste of Thanks." All veterans and c...
Published: 05/17/18
Howard Altman: MacDill chosen to sell new Army-like Air Force uniforms

Howard Altman: MacDill chosen to sell new Army-like Air Force uniforms

Home to headquarters including U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base is at the forefront of a lot of important military action.Now it is taking on a new role — as a prime Air Force clothier.The flying branch...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
MacDill reviewing transportation plans after crowds jam roads for AirFest 2018

MacDill reviewing transportation plans after crowds jam roads for AirFest 2018

TAMPA — Tampa Bay AirFest 2018 pulled in a whopping 150,000 people and more over three days last week, including practice on Friday.But that proved to be more people than the transportation plan could handle, delaying arrival by hours for some and pr...
Published: 05/17/18
Vital military training falls short, New Port Richey veteran says: How to re-enter civilian life

Vital military training falls short, New Port Richey veteran says: How to re-enter civilian life

When Green Beret Brian Anderson got ready to leave the Army in 2011, after eight years fighting in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, he followed the path taken by tens of thousands of service members each year.Anderson, now 36 and living in New Port ...
Published: 05/14/18
Clouds can’t dampen crowd’s enthusiasm at packed MacDill Airfest

Clouds can’t dampen crowd’s enthusiasm at packed MacDill Airfest

TAMPA — With his 4-year-old son Tyler on his shoulders, Ryan Wick watched the Navy’s Blue Angels aerial demonstration team scream over the MacDill Air Force Base flight line at about 400 miles an hour.An hour or so earlier, the two struck a similar p...
Published: 05/12/18
US jets intercept pair of Russian bombers off Alaskan coast

US jets intercept pair of Russian bombers off Alaskan coast

Two Russian long-range bombers were intercepted off the coast of Alaska by a pair of F-22 Raptor fighter jets on Friday, the military said.The Tu-95 bombers were flying in the Air Defense Identification Zone in the Bering Sea north of the Aleutian Is...
Published: 05/12/18
Agencies are told to step up use of special powers to hire military spouses

Agencies are told to step up use of special powers to hire military spouses

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump has issued an order aimed at boosting hiring by federal agencies of spouses of military personnel, who often face career difficulties as a result of being relocated frequently.Military service "often impairs the sp...
Published: 05/12/18