The US reconnaissance aircraft was reportedly intercepted by Russian planes off the coast of the Kamchatka peninsula. Russian MiG-31 fighters were scrambled and escorted the American RC-135 “spy plane” away from Russia’s air space, according to the Russian National Defence Control Centre. Former naval intelligence officer John Jordan has told Russia Today that the US aircraft was in fact an airliner converted for electronic “intelligence gathering.”
Commenting on cockpit footage of the intercept, Mr Jordan told RT: “What you just showed there was an RC-135.
“That is a converted 707 airliner converted to what is called electoral intelligence gathering.
“What it does is it picks up all manner of transmissions across the electromagnetic spectrum, captures them, tapes them for processing later.
“Now the US airforce has run these types of missions up and down the Kamchatka peninsula there for decades.”
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The pilot and security analyst added: “Now the Russians do come up and frequently scramble fighters to intercept and just say hello.
“But these flights are very routine.
“But the intercepts are getting a lot more publicity now and this is why it is kind of dangerous.”
His comments came amid renewed tensions along the Ukraine border with Russia, amid fears of an all-out war between the two sides.
Over the last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin has amassed tens of thousands of troops and heavy military equipment close to the border with Ukraine.
Kiev estimates there are now 85,000 Russian troops just six miles from its border and in Crimea.
America, which is strongly allied with Ukraine, is sending two warships to the Black Sea, while Russia is also boosting its naval presence in the region.
On Saturday, a top Russian official warned that Moscow could intervene in eastern Ukraine if Ukraine launches an assault on Russian-backed separatists there.
Meanwhile, satellite images have shown a massive Russian military camp has been established in the east of the Crimean peninsula.
German newspaper Der Spiegel posted photos from Planet Labs Inc which show a new Russian camp around 30km from Marfivka in east Crimea.
The open source analysts report the camp is some 280km by road from Ukrainian territories and shows elements of Russia’s 58th army.
Russian researchers have already noted units from the 58th Army have arrived in Crimea, including the 291st Artillery and the 136th Motorized brigades.