CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

Saturday, June 24, 2017





China May Have Made a Massive Mistake in the South China Sea



Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comment during his confirmation hearing that the United States would deny China access to its man-made island bases in the South China Sea caused a predictable furor.
However, few people seriously think the US is going to blockade the islands. This is a poor option anyway.
China’s military is not going to be rolled back and abandon the islands. It can’t.  Beijing’s leadership has proven it is no better at running an economy than anyone else in human history. That only leaves restoring China’s grandeur to justify Chinese Communist Party rule. Backing down in the face of US pressure would be humiliating and possibly threaten regime survival.
Even if the US has few decent options for direct military pressure on existing Chinese-held island bases, Tillerson’s comments and subsequent statements by Trump Administration officials suggest an abrupt change in longstanding US policy towards China.
One might now anticipate an end to accommodationist (some would say, appeasement) policy under which the norm was ‘de-escalation’ whenever China did something provocative.
While the US more or less stood by, the People’s Republic of China has come close to establishing de facto control of the South China Sea and greatly expanded its position inside the entire so-called 1st Island Chain.  China’s military can make an opponent’s operations inside the chain extremely difficult – and this will become even more the case as the People’s Liberation Army’s capabilities increase.
However, China’s leaders might ask themselves, ‘now what…?’
China’s strength inside the 1st Island Chain may not be the strategic advantage it seems – now that the United States appears willing to defend its interests.
Geography Class:
Regional geography is an unchanging variable and not in China’s favor in this case as it leaves open the possibility that if push comes to shove, the US and its partners could hem Chinese forces inside the 1st Island Chain.  And, if necessary, make life exceedingly difficult for Chinese forces operating inside the chain.
The geography makes the 1st Island Chain effectively a barrier. There are relatively few ‘access (or exit) points’ through the chain that stretches all the way from Japan in the north down past Taiwan, the Philippines, and Indonesia, and over to the Straits of Malacca in the south.
Access points can be easily defended against an adversary seeking to transit such channels.  All can be covered and blocked using a combination of land and sea-based anti-ship missiles and long-range precision artillery, sea mines (‘dumb’ mines will do nicely, and ‘smart’ ones do even better), anti-aircraft systems, anti-submarine weapons, and the like.
Most of these weapons also can reach well inside the 1st Island Chain – and one should not forget Vietnam’s ability to ‘reach in’ from the West. Japan has already started installing such a defensive network in its Ryukyu Islands.
The aforementioned ‘asymmetrical’ weapons do not take into account the considerable resources of the US (and other nations) in the form of naval combatant ships, submarines, airpower, Marines, and surveillance resources that can be used to block the 1st Island Chain.
With a newfound US backbone, particularly if solidly linked operationally and politically with Japan and its considerable, if latent, military resources other regional nations might feel more confident about asserting their own interests.
Much of the intellectual work for an efficient strategic defense centered on defending from the 1st Island Chain and making use of economic pressure has already been done by retired US Marine Colonel, TX Hammes – whose ‘Offshore Control’ concept is a useful initial blue-print the Trump Administration would do well to consider.
China’s Miscalculation?
President Xi and his immediate predecessors perhaps didn’t think through the geography angle as much as they might have. And China tipped its hand too soon in 2009 when it ended its so-called charm offensive, which was indeed lulling to sleep regional nations (and even many Americans), and started throwing its weight around.
Nowadays, almost nobody in Asia who isn’t on the Beijing payroll, or hopes to be, sees China as benign. The more prevalent view is one of an acquisitive bully.
Scratch the surface even in Malaysia and the Philippines and there is plenty of resentment toward the People’s Republic of China.  And President Xi managed to do the near impossible by making Japan take its defense more seriously — something successive American administrations couldn’t achieve.
The Chinese thinking appeared to be that after absorbing everything inside the 1st island chain and intimidating Japan, the 2d Island Chain would be next, as China moved from strength to strength – with nobody able or willing to resist.
Beijing perhaps had reason to believe the US ‘wouldn’t do anything’ – and US behavior after the Scarborough Shoal standoff in 2012 between Philippine and Chinese vessels bore that out, as did successive invitations to RIMPAC while the island building effort was in full-swing. Add to that mix the United States’ scant support for the Philippines after the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling on the South China Sea in 2016.
So, for a scheme ultimately dependent on American acquiescence, Donald Trump’s election threw a wrench into the works.
As welcome as a change in US policy might be, dealing with China’s attempts to dominate East Asia will not be not be easy nor risk-free, unless one wishes to cede everything inside the 1st Island Chain in what would uncomfortably look like a reprise of the Sudetenland in 1938.
Things might get frightening as Chinese invective kicks in – and the inevitable physical confrontation – involving the US or one of its regional friends comes along.
Flash Point?:
One bellwether may be at Scarborough Shoal and the US response to a Chinese effort to ‘fill’ the shoal and build on it. Taiwan is also in for a hard time – not least given its strategic position on the 1st Island Chain, which potentially gives the mainland a foothold to ‘break’ the chain and have unfettered access into the Pacific.
Taking some risk on behalf of US interests is unavoidable – and at long last imposing some risk on China is called for – as Professors Toshi Yoshihara and James Holmes at the US Naval War College have advocated.
China needs to decide if potentially taking on the full might of the United States — to include serious economic costs (which the US is capable of inflicting) — is worth the effort and the drain on resources of continuing its drive to dominate East Asia and international waters and ocean territory of other nations.
With the right approach on the part of the US and like-minded nations, China may find that after all its effort to build island bases — ruining its image in the process and motivating Japan to take its defense seriously — it has merely done the 1917 equivalent of moving the Western Front a mile to the east – at great cost, but with few prospects for further advances.
China appears to have installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, a U.S. think tank reported on Wednesday, citing new satellite imagery.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said its findings come despite statements by the Chinese leadership that Beijing has no intention to militarize the islands in the strategic trade route, Reuters said in an exclusive report.

AMTI said it had been tracking construction of hexagonal structures on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs in the Spratly Islands since June and July. China has already built military length airstrips on these islands.

"It now seems that these structures are an evolution of point-defense fortifications already constructed at China’s smaller facilities on Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, and Cuarteron reefs," it said citing images taken in November and made available to Reuters.

"This model has gone through another evolution at (the) much-larger bases on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs."

Satellite images of Hughes and Gaven reefs showed what appeared to be anti-aircraft guns and what were likely to be close-in weapons systems to protect against cruise missile strikes, it said.

Images from Fiery Cross Reef showed towers that likely contained targeting radar, it said.

AMTI said covers had been installed on the towers at Fiery Cross, but the size of platforms on these and the covers suggested they concealed defense systems similar to those at the smaller reefs.

"These gun and probable CIWS emplacements show that Beijing is serious about defense of its artificial islands in case of an armed contingency in the South China Sea," it said.


"Among other things, they would be the last line of defence against cruise missiles launched by the United States or others against these soon-to-be-operational air bases."

AMTI director Greg Poling said AMTI had spent months trying to figure out what the purposes of the structures was.
"This is the first time that we're confident in saying they are anti-aircraft and CIWS emplacements. We did not know that they had systems this big and this advanced there," he told Reuters.
"This is militarization. The Chinese can argue that it's only for defensive purposes, but if you are building giant anti-aircraft gun and CIWS emplacements, it means that you are prepping for a future conflict.




"They keep saying they are not militarizing, but they could deploy fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles tomorrow if they wanted to," he said. "Now they have all the infrastructure in place for these interlocking rings of defense and power projection."
The report said the installations would likely back up a defensive umbrella provided by a future deployment of mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) platforms like the HQ-9 system deployed to Woody Island in the Paracel Islands, farther to the north in the South China Sea.
It forecast that such a deployment could happen "at any time," noting a recent Fox News report that components for SAM systems have been spotted at the southeastern Chinese port of Jieyang, possibly destined for the South China Sea.
China has said military construction on the islands will be limited to necessary defensive requirements.
The United States has criticized what it called China's militarization of its maritime outposts and stressed the need for freedom of navigation by conducting periodic air and naval patrols near them that have angered Beijing.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, has also criticized Chinese behaviour in the South China Sea while signalling he may adopt a tougher approach to China's assertive behaviour in the region than President Barack Obama.
The State Department said it would not comment on intelligence matters, but spokesman John Kirby added:
"We consistently call on China as well as other claimants to commit to peacefully managing and resolving disputes, to refrain from further land reclamation and construction of new facilities and the militarization of disputed features."

Taiwan's defence ministry confirmed the facility's existence after Fox News reported missile launchers had arrived on Woody Island, part of the Paracels chain, in the past week.
The report came as President Barack Obama called for "tangible steps" to reduce tensions in the region.
Beijing has controlled all of the Paracels, which are also claimed by Hanoi and Taipei, since seizing several from South Vietnam in a brief, bloody battle towards the end of the Vietnam War.
But tensions in the sea -- through which one-third of the world's oil passes -- have mounted in recent months since China transformed contested reefs in the Spratly islands further south into artificial islands capable of supporting military facilities.
Washington says the move threatens free passage in a strategically vital area and has sent warships to sail close to the disputed islands to assert that right.
Analysts said the latest deployment could be an attempt to deter such freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs). Australian military aircraft also routinely overfly the area.
Fox News said Tuesday that images showed two batteries of eight missile launchers and a radar system had arrived on Woody Island, the Paracels' main island.
"The defence ministry has learned of an air defence missile system deployed by the Chinese communists on Yongxing Island," a Taiwan defence ministry spokesman told AFP.
After meeting his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi described the reports as "an attempt by certain Western media to create news stories".
He did not explicitly deny the deployment, but urged more attention on "the lighthouses we have built on some of the islands and reefs in the South China Sea".
"Self-defence facilities that China has built on the islands," Wang said, "are consistent with the right to self-preservation and self-protection that China is entitled to under international law".
China established the tiny city of Sansha on Woody Island in 2012 to administer a wide swathe of waters and islands, creating an oddity that is by far the world's largest city by area but has a minuscule population of around 1,000 people.
In 2014, the country added a military airstrip to the island, saying it would "greatly improve Chinese defence capabilities".
In the Spratlys, China has set up runways capable of accommodating military aircraft on its newly-built islands, and is believed to have installed radar towers.
The Fox News report was based on pictures from ImageSat International, which earlier this week released images said to show reclamation work in the Paracels.
The missiles appeared to be the HQ-9 air defence system, with a range of about 200km (125 miles), according to reports.
Experts said they could be used to target enemy aircraft, and Kevin Cheng, editor-in-chief of the Taipei-based Asia-Pacific Defense Magazine, told AFP: "The... HQ-9... could exacerbate the nerves of neighbouring countries, particularly Vietnam.
"The military deployment could be seen to violate the US call for free navigation in the area and allow it more excuse to interfere in affairs there," he added.
Rory Medcalf, an Asian security expert at the Australian National University, said: "If this was meant to be a signal to deter FONOPs, I doubt it will succeed."
The Pentagon declined to confirm the Chinese missile deployment to AFP.
The report on the missile batteries came as Obama and the 10 leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian National (ASEAN), including Vietnam, issued a joint statement calling for the "peaceful resolution" of the myriad competing claims over islands, atolls and reefs.
The call followed a two-day summit in California where leaders voiced concern over Beijing's military build-up in the area.
"We discussed the need for tangible steps in the South China Sea to lower tensions," Obama said, calling for "a halt to further reclamation, new construction and militarisation of disputed areas".
In addition to the three Paracels claimants, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei have competing claims in the Spratlys.
Resentment still simmers in Vietnam over its territorial clashes with its giant neighbour, and on Wednesday it marked the 37th anniversary of a different border clash.
During a visit to Washington last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged not to militarise the Spratlys, though he made no mention of the Paracels, and Medcalf said the latest move violated "the spirit, if not the letter" of that assurance.

The move, he told AFP, "reinforces the view that China intends to exert growing control in these international waters."


Image: Report: China, Russia, Iran Challenging US Naval Technology

An F18 Super Hornet prepares to land on the deck of the USS Eisenhower off the coast of Virginia on Dec. 10, 2015 in the Atlantic Ocean. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)




The Navy's "unchallenged primacy" around the world "may be coming to a close," with defense systems being developed by countries including China, Russia and Iran, a new report warns.




"Red Alert: The Growing Threat to U.S. Aircraft Carriers,"published Monday by he Center for a New American Security, a D.C.-based think tank that focuses on national security — and posted by the Washington Post — focuses on the new strategy to push the enemy forces as far away as possible from strategically important areas, called anti-access/area denial, or A2/AD.


"While the U.S. Navy has long enjoyed freedom of action throughout the world's oceans, the days of its unchallenged primacy may be coming to a close," the report's introduction states.



"In recent years, a number of countries, including China, Russia and Iran, have accelerated investments in anti-access/area denial … capabilities such as advanced air defense system, anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles, submarines, and aircraft carriers. These capabilities are likely to proliferate in the coming years…"




The United States "must re-examine the relevance of the carrier and its air wing and explore innovative options for future operations and force structure," the report recommends. "If the United States is to maintain its military superiority well into the future, it cannot afford to do otherwise."



For example, the report states, China's "emphasis on long-range anti-ship missile procurement," coupled with its growing tech base, qualifies that nation as the "pacing threat" to the U.S. military, the report says.



But in the Baltic as well, Russia's naval base in Kaliningrad also houses an air defense network and anti-ship missiles, and NATO commanders are detecting Russia's A2/AD buildup around Syria, the Post reports.

Yet U.S. carrier groups have reduced their long-range strike ability in favor of being able to fly more air missions at shorter ranges, the report notes.

"An adversary with A2/AD capabilities would likely launch a saturation attack against the carrier from a variety of platforms and directions," the report warns. "Such an attack would be difficult – if not impossible – to defend against."

China's A2/AD strategy has recently made news after satellite imagery revealed the existence of HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island, a disputed atoll in the South China Sea. 
The new report classifies the HQ-9 as a short-range A2/AD threat but indicates the movement of such systems into disputed territory in the South China Sea, if properly reinforced, is a potentially long-term problem for U.S. naval operations. 

The report covers possible short-term countermeasures for a sophisticated A2/AD network, but in the long-term suggests putting U.S. combat power into systems such as submarines and long-range carrier-based drones. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017



World Teetering on Brink of Thermonuclear War: Russian fighter jets, bombers and helicopters fire and evade missiles in spectacular 'military Olympics' tournament

  • Aviadarts competition is designed to test flight skills and precision shooting
  • It is being held this year at Pogonovo range in Voronezh region, south of Moscow
  • Aircraft must destroy land-based targets using rockets, machine guns and cannon, and overcome anti-aircraft defence
  • Nations understood to have previously taken part include Egypt, Iran, Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan and China 



Russian jet fighters, missiles racing through the sky and great plumes of smoke...
Thankfully, this is not the beginning of World War Three but, rather, an aerial tournament, known as Aviadarts.
The self-styled 'military Olympics' competition is designed to test flight skills and precision shooting and is being held this year at the Pogonovo range in the Voronezh region, south of Moscow.
During the Aviadarts Tournament, aircraft must destroy land-based targets using rockets, machine guns and cannon, and overcome anti-aircraft defence.
A Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jet performs at the Aviamix airshow, the opening event for the 2017 Aviadarts military aviation competition  in Russia
A Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jet performs at the Aviamix airshow, the opening event for the 2017 Aviadarts military aviation competition  in Russia
The competition is designed to test flight skills and precision shooting and is being held this year at the Pogonovo range in the Voronezh region, south of Moscow. Above, a Mil Mi-26N heavy lift cargo helicopter of the Berkuty [Golden Eagles] aerobatic team performs in the show
The competition is designed to test flight skills and precision shooting and is being held this year at the Pogonovo range in the Voronezh region, south of Moscow. Above, a Mil Mi-26N heavy lift cargo helicopter of the Berkuty [Golden Eagles] aerobatic team performs in the show
During the Aviadarts Tournament, aviation must destroy land-based targets using rockets, machine guns and cannon, and overcome anti-aircraft defence. Pictured, a Mil Mi-26N heavy lift cargo helicopter lands a Tigr [Tiger] multipurpose infantry mobility vehicle
During the Aviadarts Tournament, aviation must destroy land-based targets using rockets, machine guns and cannon, and overcome anti-aircraft defence. Pictured, a Mil Mi-26N heavy lift cargo helicopter lands a Tigr [Tiger] multipurpose infantry mobility vehicle
Featuring 60 crews of planes and combat helicopters, it takes place from June 14 to 27 - and these images show them performing during the Aviamix airshow, the opening event of the tournament
Featuring 60 crews of planes and combat helicopters, it takes place from June 14 to 27 - and these images show them performing during the Aviamix airshow, the opening event of the tournament
Aviadarts is one of the most spectacular competitions of the 'International Military Games', the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement
Aviadarts is one of the most spectacular competitions of the 'International Military Games', the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement
Featuring 60 crews of planes and combat helicopters, it takes place from June 14 to 27 - and these images show them performing during the Aviamix airshow, the opening event of the tournament.
The aircraft can be seen showing off their accuracy and aerobatics as they soar in perfect symmetry.
As well as fighter jets, other military hardware taking part include heavy-lift cargo helicopters from the Berkuty [Golden Eagles] aerobatic team and strategic bombers.

Aviadarts is one of the most spectacular competitions of the 'International Military Games', the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement, according to Sputnik News.    
The national leg of the annual competition was first held in Russia in 2013. 
Among the other nations understood to have competed in the past at Aviadarts are Kazakhstan, China, Egypt, Iran, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Kuwait and Mongolia.   
Servicemen in a Tiger multipurpose infantry mobility vehicle let rip some firepower during the competition
Servicemen in a Tiger multipurpose infantry mobility vehicle let rip some firepower during the competition
The aircraft can be seen showing off their accuracy and aerobatics as they soar in perfect symmetry. Pictured, Sukhoi Su-34 fighter jets release FAB-250 high explosive bombs
The aircraft can be seen showing off their accuracy and aerobatics as they soar in perfect symmetry. Pictured, Sukhoi Su-34 fighter jets release FAB-250 high explosive bombs
The national leg of the annual competition was first held in Russia in 2013. Above, a Mil Mi-26N heavy lift cargo helicopter of the Berkuty aerobatic team
The national leg of the annual competition was first held in Russia in 2013. Above, a Mil Mi-26N heavy lift cargo helicopter of the Berkuty aerobatic team
Servicemen take pictures of the air action. Among the other nations understood to have competed in the past at Aviadarts are Kazakhstan, China, Egypt, Iran, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Kuwait and Mongolia
Servicemen take pictures of the air action. Among the other nations understood to have competed in the past at Aviadarts are Kazakhstan, China, Egypt, Iran, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Kuwait and Mongolia
Want to see a really good acrobatic display? Britain's Red Arrows put on a show in the skies above Silverstone, Northampton
Want to see a really good acrobatic display? Britain's Red Arrows put on a show in the skies above Silverstone, Northampton




Russian fighter jet chased off a NATO aircraft after it buzzed a plane carrying defence minister Sergei Shoigu over the Baltic Sea, Russian news agencies have said.
The F-16 had tried to approach the aircraft carrying the defence minister even though it was flying over neutral waters, agencies said today, before a Russian Sukhoi-27 turned up to warn it off. 
Shoigu was reported to be en route to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad for a meeting to discuss how well Russia's western flank was defended.
In dramatic footage appearing to show the incident unfolding, a Sukhoi-27 can be seen flying between an F-16 and another plane before tilting its wings. The F-16 then seems to fly off.    

Russian fighter 'displays its weapons' to warn off NATO jet


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Dramatic footage captured the moment a a Russian fighter jet (left) chased off a NATO aircraft after it buzzed a plane carrying defence minister Sergei Shoigu over the Baltic Sea
Dramatic footage captured the moment a a Russian fighter jet (left) chased off a NATO aircraft after it buzzed a plane carrying defence minister Sergei Shoigu over the Baltic Sea
In the video said to have been taken of the incident, the F-16 (pictured right) can be seen being chased off by the Sukhoi-27 (left) 
In the video said to have been taken of the incident, the F-16 (pictured right) can be seen being chased off by the Sukhoi-27 (left) 
Pictured: The F-16 coming very close to the plane containing defence minister Sergei Shoigu
Pictured: The F-16 coming very close to the plane containing defence minister Sergei Shoigu
The report comes as Sweden summoned Russia's ambassador today after a fighter jet flew unusually close to a Swedish reconnaissance plane in international airspace above the Baltic Sea, a further sign of rising military tensions in the region. 
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist slammed Russia as 'unprofessional' and urged Moscow to avoid incidents like this again. 
During the incident involving the Russian defence minister, it was reported that the Russian jet sent to warn off the NATO fighter inserted itself between Shoigu's plane and the NATO fighter and tilted its wings from side to side to show the weapons it was carrying.
After that, agencies said the F-16 left the area.  
Pictured: A map showing the possible route the defence minister's plane could freely take over the Baltic Sea 
Pictured: A map showing the possible route the defence minister's plane could freely take over the Baltic Sea 
Recently the Baltic Sea has become an area of rising tensions between Moscow and NATO. 
The Swedish incident - which occurred on Monday - prompted a strong reaction from Sweden's government. 
The Swedish Armed Forces said in a statement that it was not unusual for Russian planes to approach and identify Swedish surveillance missions.
'This time, however, the Russian aircraft behaved in such a way that it has to be considered noteworthy, among other things the distance between the aircraft was at times very short,' it said. 
Pictured: Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, with President Vladimir Putin 
Pictured: Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, with President Vladimir Putin 
Earlier this month, Russia scrambled a fighter jet to intercept a nuclear-capable US B-52 strategic bomber it said was flying over the Baltic near its border, in an incident that had echoes of the Cold War.
The Kremlin referred questions about the latest incident to the defence ministry, which did not immediately comment. 
It has said in the past that all Russian flights over the Baltic are conducted in strict accordance with international law.

Sukhoi-27 

The Russian fighter jet reportedly lifted its wings to show the weapons it was carrying to the NATO fighter. Pictured: A stock image of a Sukhoi-27 jet
The Russian fighter jet reportedly lifted its wings to show the weapons it was carrying to the NATO fighter. Pictured: Stock images of a Sukhoi-27 jet, left, and an F-16, right
- Weapons: Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-301 autocannon capable of firing 1,800 high explosive or armour piercing rounds per minute and Vympel R-73 and Vympel R-27 air-to-air missiles - the latter capable of flying 80 miles at mach 4.5 to reach its target
- Hardpoints (weapons slots): 10 
- Top speed: 1,320mph 
- Country of origin: Russia 
- First built: 1982 
- Basic cost: $30m 
- Manufacturer: Sukhoi
- Number in service: 809
- Used by: Several forces, including the air forces of Russia, China, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Vietnam and Angola 

F-16 
Pictured: The American-made F-16, which was first produced in 1973 
Pictured: The American-made F-16, which was first produced in 1973 
- Weapons: M61 Vulcan Gatling gun capable of firing 6,600 rounds of 20mm calibre bullets per minute, AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles capable of hitting targets up to 111 miles away and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles capable of hitting targets 22 miles away using infrared homing 
- Hardpoints: 9 
- Top speed: 1553mph 
- Country of origin: USA 
- First built: 1973 
- Basic cost: Between $14.6 and $18.8m 
- Manufacturer: General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) 
- Number in service: 4,537 
- Used by: 26 forces, including the air forces of the USA, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Pakistan and ChileThe incident occurred a day after the Russian defence ministry said an RC-135 US reconnaissance plane had swerved dangerously in the proximity of a Russian fighter jet over the Baltic. 
The ministry said at the same time that another RC-135 had been intercepted by a Russian jet in the same area.
The Pentagon had a different version of events.
Apparently referring to the same episode, Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the U.S. aircraft 'did nothing to provoke this behaviour.'
The Pentagon said the intercept had been unsafe and accused the Russian pilot of flying too fast and having 'poor control' over his SU-27 fighter jet

The Trump administration has committed what may turn out to be a fatal mistake, and by fatal, I mean not just to the Trump regime but to the entire globe. Trump has surrendered control of the US Military machine to the Pentagon – the President, the Secretary of Defense, all of the politicians no longer control or guide the US military, the Pentagon now holds the reins.
What is really disturbing and scary about this is that the Pentagon is, quite frankly, utterly insane; the place is riddled with fundamentalist Christians, Dominionists obsessed with fulfilling the ‘End Times’ prophecy.
No, this is not an outline for a new Dr Strangelove movie, this is absolutely real. We find a succinct description of the Dominionist mindset in an essay written by Gavin Finley MD:
It is a belief that this world can, and must, be conquered for Christ by militant action undertaken by the Christian Church.
Dominion Theology incorporates a Crusader mindset. It teaches that it is our Christian duty to take over the world, in a political sense, and if necessary, in a military sense, in order to impose Biblical rule. Christ will not return, (they say), until the church has “risen up” and “taken dominion” over all of the world’s governments and institutions.
Dominionists affirm that this is not a matter for us to discuss. As they see it, this is a direct unequivocal mandate from God. We are not to wait upon God, (they say). They say that He is waiting for US! And they are insistent, even bullying, in their demand that we follow them in their wild ride towards world dominion.
So now we have a bunch of religious maniacs who firmly believe they must conquer the world on the orders of God in control of the the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons on the planet. These same maniacs are currently pumping US troops and weapons into Syria in what appears to be a blatant attempt to start a shooting war with the Russians.
Don’t anyone make the mistake of thinking for even one second that these Christian nutjobs in the Pentagon would hesitate to launch a full out thermonuclear first strike against the Russians and anyone else who tried to stand in the way of their attempts to do what they see as God’s bidding.
We are truly closer to the brink now than we have ever been….