Russian pilots trying to ‘dogfight’ US jets over Syria, US Central Command says

April 29, 2023

Crew members of US aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman stand beside an F18 Hornet fighter jet on the flight deck of the ship in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on May 8, 2018.

Russian pilots are trying to “dogfight” US jets over Syria, according to a spokesman for US Central Command, part of a recent pattern of more aggressive behavior.

The attempts have happened in several of the most recent instances of aggressive behavior from Russian pilots, Col. Joe Buccino said.

The Russian pilots do not appear to be trying to shoot down American jets, a US official told CNN, but they may be trying to “provoke” the US and “draw us into an international incident.”

In military aviation, dogfighting is engaging in aerial combat, often at relatively close ranges.

A video released by US Central Command from April 2 shows a Russian SU-35 fighter jet conducting an “unsafe and unprofessional” intercept of a US F-16 fighter jet.

A second video from April 18th shows a Russian fighter that violated coalition airspace and came within 2,000 feet of a US aircraft, a distance a fighter jet can cover in a matter of seconds.

Over the last several years, the US and have used a deconfliction line between the two militaries in Syria to avoid unintentional mistakes or encounters that can inadvertently lead to escalation.

US officials have reached out to their Russian counterparts over the recent incidents, and the Russians have responded, the official said, but “never in a way that acknowledges the incident.”

Since the beginning of March, Russian jets have violated deconfliction protocols a total of 85 times, the official said, including flying too close to coalition bases, failing to reach out on the deconfliction line, and more.

That also includes 26 instances in which armed Russian jets flew over US and coalition positions in Syria.

“It looks to be consistent with a new way of operating,” the official said. US pilots have refused to engage in the dogfights and are adhering to the protocols of the deconfliction measures, the official added.

The US has approximately 900 service members in Syria as part of the ongoing campaign to defeat ISIS.

The more aggressive behavior from Russian pilots has occurred outside of Syria as well.

In March, a Russian SU-27 fighter jet collided with a US MQ-9 Reaper drone in international airspace over the Black Sea.

The collision damaged the drone’s propellor, forcing it down in the water in an incident the US described as “unsafe, unprofessional” and even “reckless.”

“It’s concerning because it increases the risk of miscalculation, and given incidents like the MQ-9 intercept and subsequent downing over the Black Sea, it’s not the kind of behavior I’d expect out of a professional Air Force,” the commander of US Air Force Central Command, Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich said in a statement earlier this month.

Russia subsequently presented state awards to the pilots of the Russian jets.


  1. I wish that we would, even just once, shoot down a mafia plane when it acts in such a reckless, provocative manner. One time would suffice to teach those drunk, irresponsible assholes a valuable lesson; you don’t mess with the US!

    “In March, a Russian SU-27 fighter jet collided with a US MQ-9 Reaper drone in international airspace over the Black Sea.”

    And, to this very day, the mafiosi have suffered zero consequences. This is but one more thing that I loathe about the Biden administration.

  2. I think the one and only reason why American fighter pilots and other military personnel haven’t given the russians their well-deserved ass-kicking, is the concern (or fear) of starting World War III. No one actually wants it, except for moscow’s putin and beijing’s xi. Not even Zelensky seems to want escalation, he just wants to defend Ukraine, but not to consider a counter-invasion in russia.

    The sentiment I get from all this, is like that of a small, but ferocious and aggressive dog. Except much less “cute,” and no good person wants to kill a dog. If it’s clearly not playing at fighting, then matter how fiercely or irrationally it fights, the “dog” will never get what it wants, because it’s too weak comparatively, to be a threat. Eventually, the only comfortable, sensible choice is to put it outside and have someone from animal control come to take it away for its eventual death. I’m sure that no one wants to get “rabies,” but it’s worse to tolerate the problem than it is to literally kick it out.

    • “No matter” how fiercely or irrationally it fights. Sorry, it’s early morning here, I’d just woken up.

    • If we shot down one of their planes, there will be no WWIII, not even if we shot down 10 of them. They know very well what fire they’re playing with and are ready to take the losses. However, they also know of the Yellow House’s cowardly leader.

    • In my opinion, the reason the Moskali try SO hard to bring the USA/NATO into the war is simply so they can show and prove their war is with the West and not Ukraine. It would be devastating for Putler to lose to Ukraine, but to fight and lose to the USA/NATO would still make him a hero at home.

      • That might very well be their strategy. A dumb one and a very risky one, but we know mafia land as not being very smart in the first place.

  3. Consider when Turkey shot down a rashist jet in Syria, although they complained and protested, nothing really came of it.

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