US and Russia Spar Over ‘Unsafe’ Spy Plane Intercept Near Syria

A Russian aircraft intercepted a U.S. aircraft flying in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea three times in just under three hours Tuesday, June 4, according to the U.S. 6th Fleet.

“On June 4, 2019, a U.S. P-8A Poseidon aircraft flying in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea was intercepted by a Russian SU-35 three times over the course of 175 minutes,” the 6th Fleet said in a statement Tuesday.

The second of the three interactions “was determined to be unsafe” due to the Russian aircraft “conducting a high speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, which put our pilots and crew at risk,” it said.

The American aircraft was maintaining international standards and “did not provoke this Russian activity,” the statement continued.

“While the Russian aircraft was operating in international airspace, this interaction was irresponsible. We expect them to behave within international standards set to ensure safety and to prevent incidents,” the 6th Fleet wrote, adding that “unsafe actions‎ increase the risk of miscalculation and potential for midair collisions.”

The interaction marked another recent brush with Russian aircraft.

Russia’s Ministry of Defence said it had scrambled a Sukhoi Su-35 jet from its air base in Syria to intercept the U.S. plane which it said had been approaching Russia’s Tartus naval facility on the Syrian coast, the RIA news agency reported on Wednesday.

Moscow denied its aircraft had acted irresponsibly, saying it had stayed at a safe distance and had returned to its base after the U.S. aircraft changed course.

Last month, U.S. F-22 stealth jets intercepted four Russian bombers and two Russian SU-35 fighter jets in international airspace off the coast of Alaska. The Russian bomber flights are seen by U.S. military officials as part of Moscow’s effort to train its military for a potential crisis while sending a message of strength to adversaries.

By Barbara Starr and Caroline Kelly.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Report: Russian Plane Flew Over Area 51 in Nevada

A Russian aircraft flew over Area 51 in southern Nevada as part of the Open Skies Treaty, according to a report.

The Drive reported that a Tu-154M was captured flying over several military bases in the western United States, including the infamous Area 51. The flight occurred on March 28, starting at Travis Air Force Base in California.

Next, the plane flew over Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, Fort Irwin National Training Center in San Bernardino County, and Nevada’s Creech Air Force Base, The Drive reported, citing FlightRadar24 data.

اس پر ‏‎The Drive‎‏ نے شائع کیا جمعہ، 29 مارچ، 2019

The Russian plane then went to Yucca Flat, a nuclear test site.

“It then headed over the pockmarked Nevada Test Site. Area 51 sits just to the east of this location. The aircraft’s panoramic cameras can collect fairly wide swathes of imagery along the Open Skies aircraft’s flight path,” The Drive reported.

Near the Nevada Test Site is Area 51, located to the east. The plane’s aircraft is able to gather a large area of images along the flight path.

The aircraft is equipped with electro-optical cameras and Russia will conduct two imaging flight segments today and tomorrow out of Great Falls:

اس پر ‏‎KRTV Great Falls‎‏ نے شائع کیا جمعرات، 28 مارچ، 2019

Later, it flew to the Tonopah Test Range before going to Salt Lake, Utah.

The plane then went back to Great Falls, Montana, which has an international airport, reported KRTV. The crew left the United States over the weekend.

It’s the first Open Skies mission over the United States in 2019.

The United States already flew several Open Skies sorties over Russia last month, Air Force Magazine reported.

The Open Skies Treaty went into effect in January 2002 and has 34 states.

Area 51 is a U.S. Air Force facility in a remote area within the Nevada Test and Training Range. The base’s current purpose is currently unknown.

Over the year, conspiracy theories have abounded about the secret base, including UFOs and experimental weapons.

The CIA declassified a 400-page document in 2017 about the secret facility.

“Area 51, it turns out, was just test site that housed spy planes, most notably the U-2. Introduced in 1957, the U-2 could travel as far as 7,000 miles, at an altitude of 70,000 feet, and stay airborne for up to 12 hours. U-2s are still in service with the U.S. Air Force today, and the old film cameras have been replaced U-2s used to carry have been replaced by digital cameras. In fact, some public land has weird, barcode-like patterns on it, built for U-2 camera tests,” said Popular Science magazine, citing the document.

However, Area 51 is still highly restricted. A warning sign posted on a gate, as shown in a recent YouTube video, says it’s a “restricted area.” Another sign says it is a “no drone zone” and says “photography is prohibited in this area.”

Russian Planes Should ‘Get Out’

President Donald Trump on Wednesday called on Russia to pull its troops from Venezuela and said that “all options” were open to make that happen.

The arrival of two Russian air force planes outside Caracas on Saturday believed to be carrying nearly 100 Russian special forces and cybersecurity personnel has escalated the political crisis in Venezuela.

Russia and China have backed President Nicolas Maduro, while the United States and most other Western countries support opposition leader Juan Guaido. In January, Guaido invoked the constitution to assume Venezuela’s interim presidency, arguing that Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate.

“Russia has to get out,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, where he met with Guaido’s wife, Fabiana Rosales.

Asked how he would make Russian forces leave, Trump said: “We’ll see. All options are open.”

Jack Philips contributed to this report.

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Author: Reuters

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