A Russian fighter jet flew so close to an American plane in Syria that “you could feel the jet wash of the plane passing by,” U.S. defense officials said Friday, highlighting an escalation of near-misses in recent weeks.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeff Harrigan said the incident happened on Oct. 17 when a Russian jet was escorting a larger spy plane and came to “inside of half a mile” of the American aircraft, AFP reports.
Another U.S. official who spoke to the news service on condition of anonymity said the American pilot felt the turbulence produced by the passing Russian plane.
Harrigan says there has been an increase in close calls between American and Russian aircraft in Syria over the past six weeks, with one happening “every 10 days-ish.”
The U.S.-led coalition in Syria has set up a hotline to coordinate with the Russians over the locations of their planes to help avoid collisions.
In the Oct. 17 incident, the American pilot unsuccessfully tried to contact the Russian jet via a radio channel. An official told AFP that the next day they were able to make contact with Russia, who said “the pilot didn’t see” the American plane.
Russia has been flying routine air patrols over Syria and has claimed they have not bombed the city of Aleppo since Oct. 18.