Russian recon aircraft makes low pass over NATO command ship
A Russian reconnaissance plane flew right over NATO's command ship, the Mount Whitney during a NATO exercise off Norway coast, in international waters, on Friday.
USS Mount Whitney is the heart of NATO Trident Juncture. From this vessel, which is the world's most advanced command and control ships, drills chief Admiral James Foggo manages the overall exercise scenario, according to VG, a Norwegian news outlet.
The invading team in the exercise, of which U.S. Marines are part of, are also commanded from there.
Captain Robert Aguilar rejected the fact that the increased Russian activity in the area had had an impact on the actual exercise or that it had been in the way of command ship operations.
"The area they have notified that they [Russians] want to practice is south of where we are. We are not operating in that area now. It's not a factor for us," said the Captain.
"Bear Foxtrot! Height - about 300 feet!" one of the crewmen was heard shouting as a VG correspondent toured the ship.
In the sky right above the ship, a Russian Tupolev TU-142 swooped - a reconnaissance and anti-submarine plane, which in NATO has been named "Bear F/J". Shortly afterwards, an American helicopter followed.
On deck, the Russian bomber raised awareness. It flew low and slow, and was clearly visible from the deck.
"We know it's been around, but this is the first time we've seen it properly," said one of the crewmen.
"This is routine. Russia's long-haul flight, flying across the North Sea, is routinely caught up and we meet Russian forces in other areas we operate in," said Admiral Guy Robinson, according to a VG report delivered in Norwegian. "NATO can monitor international waters, and whose nations will bring their own reactions to it, they will send out aircraft that can capture and observe it."
"It does not matter if the aircraft had weapons on board. The question is whether they would had any intention to attack. And they had not. We are out here and do our operations, they are out there and do theirs.
NATO earlier this week was keen to tone down the risk that the Russians would interfere with the "Trident Juncture" exercise, which is now taking place in Central Norway with more than 50,000 troops involved.