- The Washington Times - Friday, October 28, 2016

A “near-miss” between Russian and U.S. pilots over the skies of Syria this month was so dangerous that Americans felt turbulence within their aircraft as the jet screamed by.

The Air Force confirmed to reporters Friday that the Oct. 17 incident brought Americans and Russians razor-close and required a call from a “deconfliction” hotline. The nighttime “mistake” by the Russians brought its jet within less than a half-mile of startled U.S. pilots.

“We called the Russians about it and made sure they knew we were concerned,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Force Central Command, told NBC News Friday. “They didn’t have the situational awareness to know how close some of our airplanes were.”

The officer said the Russian jet was escorting a surveillance aircraft when the incident occurred.

“I think it’s important to recognize this one got our attention,” the officer added.

Gen. Harrigian was also asked by reporters why it took 11 days for the Pentagon to acknowledge the near-miss.

“There wasn’t anybody playing ‘I’ve got a secret,’” he replied, Military Times reported.

Close calls between the two nations are likely to continue for the foreseeable future, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has showed no signs of pulling support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Moscow contributes air and naval power in support of the regime’s attempt to quell a civil war that has raged since 2011.

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