The collision between a Russian aircraft and American Reaper drone over the Black Sea is just the latest in a litany of military encounters between the two countries.
The American MQ-9 surveillance drone in international airspace by two Russian Su-27 fighter jets.
From the Cuban Missile Crisis during the Cold War to airborne aggressions in the 21st Century, history is littered with frightening standoffs between US and Russian forces.
While many don’t raise tensions to boiling point, some of these encounters have reshaped history.
Here are some of the other standout close encounters between the militaries led by Moscow and Washington in the 20th and 21st Centuries.
A Russian fighter jet collided with an American MQ-9 Reaper drone (like the one seen above) over the Black Sea on Tuesday
Two Russian Su-27 fighter jets (like the one seen above) conducted an ‘unsafe and unprofessional intercept’ in international airspace, the US said
AMERICAN SPY PILOT SHOT DOWN
Iconic Cold War pilot Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union on May 1, 1960.
Powers was hit during a top-secret reconnaissance flight over the Soviet Union and languished in jail for 21 months.
He experienced 61 consecutive days of interrogation by the KGB and was tried and convicted for espionage and was set to spend up to ten years in prison, including seven years of hard labor.
The U-2 pilot was hit by an anti-aircraft missile about 1,300 miles inside the Soviet border after launching from a clandestine U.S.
military base in Pakistan, near to Peshawar.
Bailing out of his aircraft and parachuting to safety, the Soviets managed to recover the majority of the highly classified plane, precious surveillance photographs and Powers himself.
Francis Gary Powers was the pilot of an infamous U-2 spy plane shot down over the former Soviet Union in 1960. Powers was hit during a top-secret reconnaissance flight and languished in jail for 21 months
This photo, officially released in Moscow in 1960, shows the Russian people viewing the wreckage of a US U-2 reconnaissance plane shot down over Soviet territory on May 1st
Francis Gary Powers holds a model of a U-2 spy plane as he testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee after his release from Soviet prison in march 1962
When the capture of Powers and his aircraft was made public by the incensed leader of the U.S.S.R, Nikita Khrushchev, the United States at first denied the plane was used for military reconnaissance.
They said it was a NASA test plane.
The argument flared up during the nuclear arms talks at the Paris Summit between the U.S.S.R, the USA, France and the U.K.
and led to their collapse.
Eventually, EvdeN EVe naKLiyAT Powers was freed from prison after a dramatic trade off for Soviet spy Rudolf Abel on Berlin’s Glienicke Bridge.
After returning home, Powers worked as a test pilot for Lockheed and then as a helicopter traffic reporter.
He tragically died when his chopper ran out of fuel and crashed in a field returning from a weather report.
He was buried after his death at the age of 47 at Arlington National Cemetery in 1977.
Powers was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the third highest honor the U.S.
military, in 2012 for exhibiting ‘exceptional loyalty’ during the long and intense interrogation that he endured while being held captive by the KGB and the Soviet Union for nearly two years.
CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS
The Cuban Missile Crisis is the closest the world has ever been to all out nuclear war.
In October 1962, the U.S.
had discovered that Soviet nuclear missile bases were being built in Cuba, run by the Communist Fidel Castro, just 100 miles from the U.S. coastline of Florida.
In a bar in Old Havana, the Cuban capital, an American secret agent had overheard a local air force pilot gossiping that the island was about to get nuclear weapons sent to them by Russia.
A few hours later, as dawn broke on Sunday, October 14, an American spy plane was sent to check out the story.
An aerial intelligence photograph of missile erectors and launch stands at the Mariel Port Facility in Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
November 4, 1962
A P2V Neptune US patrol plane flying over a Soviet freighter during the Cuban missile crisis
London, England: October 23, 1962 Banner headlines of Britain”s daily newspapers on October 23 announcing President Kennedy”s blockade of Cuba
The pilot took 928 pictures, covering a swathe of 75 miles, as he passed over the northern beaches of Cuba.
To Washington’s alarm, it was true.
President Kennedy was informed on Monday morning that sites had been prepared in Cuba and that 40 missiles with nuclear warheads were being readied in the Soviet Union to be sent to silos there.
For the next 13 days, the world held its breath.
Soviet ships carrying the missiles were soon heading towards a blockade mounted around Cuba by U.S. warships.
Kennedy was considering bombing the Cuban missile sites and invading the island.
In the end both sides retreated from the horror they might have unleashed.
The Soviet ships turned back, avoiding a high seas battle.
The Russians ordered the missile sites to be dismantled in exchange for an American promise that the Soviets’ tiny island ally would not be invaded.
CLOSE CALLS IN THE SKIES
There have been a string of high-profile close encounters between American and Russian jets in recent years.
As recently as February, the US twice scrambled fighter jets to intercept Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers near Alaska.
Several Russian strategic bombers and fighter jets were intercepted by North American air defense forces as they flew over international airspace, US officials said, in routine incidents unrelated to tensions over the war in Ukraine.
The aircraft did not enter U.S.
or Canadian airspace and did not pose a threat, the joint U.S.-Canadian center said in a statement dated February 14. But the incident highlighted the possibility that such situations could escalate.
On September 7 2016, a Russian fighter jet flew within 10 feet of a U.S.
Navy plane over the Black Sea. The jet made what Pentagon officials called an ‘unsafe intercept’ of an American surveillance aircraft
NORAD has scrambled fighter jets on Valentine’s Day 2022 to intercept Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers off the coast of Alaska.
Pictured: US Air Force’s F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet
On September 7 2016, a Russian fighter jet flew within 10 feet of a U.S. Navy plane over the Black Sea. The jet made what Pentagon officials called an ‘unsafe intercept’ of an American surveillance aircraft.
Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman at the time, said a Russian SU-27 Flanker fighter made the maneuver. It was near a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft that was conducting routine operations in international airspace.
Davis said: ‘These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident, which results in serious injury or death.’
The Russian jet conducted four intercepts of the Poseidon, and the one that was considered unsafe lasted about 19 minutes.
Earlier in 2016, Russian jets buzzed over the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea, coming within 30 feet of the warship.
The P-8A Poseidon is almost 40 meters long and 13 meters high.
The Russian SU-27 fighter is a combat aircraft comparable but considered superior to the U.S. F-15 jet.
On Tuesday, May 9 2017, a Russian fighter plane passed within 20 feet of one of a Navy aircraft in international airspace over the Black Sea.
Like the case in September 2016, a Russian SU-27 came close to a US Navy P-8A Poseidon. It was carrying out routine reconnaissance, the US Navy stated.
In the summer of 2020, several American commercial vessels were ordered to leave US fishing territory by Russian warships who were conducting massive military drills in the Bering Sea less than 200 miles off the coast of Alaska.
The frightening incident took place on August 26 more than 20 nautical miles inside the American exclusive economic zone in the northern Pacific Ocean.
At the time, the Russian military was staging a large-scale military exercise in the Bering Sea – the first since the Soviet era.
American fishermen operating in vessels received threatening messages from Russian military ships in the area warning them to leave the area.
‘Three warships and two support vessels of theirs were coming and would not turn,’ Steve Elliott, the captain of the Vesteraalen trawler, said at the time.
Tom Thomas, the captain of the fishing vessel Northern Jaeger, said that he, EVDEn evE nAKliyAT too, was told to leave the area by a Russian warplane.