by J.E. Dyer
This incident is being described in somewhat vague, evasive language in the U.S. media. But if the particulars of the story are true, there’s no putting a good face on it. The U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft – an unarmed RC-135 signals intelligence collector called “Rivet Joint” – was challenged in international air space by Russian fighters, while being targeted with a Russian air defense system, and fled into Swedish air space.
The description given today by CNN comports with a narrative posted 31 July at a Swedish news site, DN.se. The event occurred on 18 July, the day after the MH17 shootdown. The RC-135, based in the UK, was flying a mission over the Baltic Sea. Although the location isn’t reported by CNN, a map posted at DN.se (and copied at The Aviationist) shows the aircraft’s track in the Baltic when it entered Swedish air space on an emergency basis, in order to get away from the Russian fighters. (See inset map with Swedish annotations below.)
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