Two U.S. military aircraft had to change flight course over Syria to ensure they could stay in a safe distance from a Russian fighter aircraft, Captain Jeff Davis, Pentagon spokesman said. It happened for the first time since Russia had conducted military air strikes at ISIS positions in Syria, CNN reports.
The two planes were F-16s that had departed from Turkey’s Incirlik air base and were on their way to a location near the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, a senior defense official said. The U.S. aircraft that diverted were not able to complete their mission, the official said.
Since the Russians began operating in Syrian airspace, U.S. pilots have been under orders to change their flight path if there is a Russian plane within 20 nautical miles, according to the official.
We are taking action to ensure” the planes don’t come too close to each other, he said, indicating there had only been one incident so far. There is no sign the two aircraft communicated with each other.
Davis said the re-routing had occurred since an October 1 secure video conference between U.S. and Russian military officials, which focused on ways to keep air crews safe as they conduct parallel military campaigns with competing objectives.
Earlier today October 7 the Syrian Armed Forces and allied militia carried out ground attacks on rebel positions in Syria backed by Russian air strikes.