US, Russian jets have 'near miss' over Syria

US, Russian jets have 'near miss' over Syria
© Getty
A U.S. military aircraft had a "near miss" with a Russian military fighter jet over Syria last week, a U.S. officials said Friday.  
U.S. officials said initial reports indicate the Russian plane inadvertently flew across the nose of a coalition aircraft over Syria around midnight. 
The incident was close enough that turbulence from the passing plane was felt. Officials do not believe the incident was intentional, blaming a loss of situational awareness. 
On Oct. 17, "two aircraft, one Russian and one coalition, came within half a mile of each other," said Air Force Col. John Dorrian, spokesman for the coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
"The Russian aircraft was a fighter jet, and the coalition aircraft was a larger-framed aircraft that we don't provide additional detail on. But the Russian jet passed in front of the coalition jet close enough that the jet wash from that flight was felt within the larger aircraft, so that's closer than we'd like," he added. 
Dorrian said there was "immediate contact between the aircraft, and then follow-up through the deconfliction channel" set up to avoid mid-air collisions between U.S. and Russian planes over Syria. 
He said it was not something the U.S. military believes to have been done with "nefarious intent." 
Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeff Harrigian, the commander of air war against ISIS, told NBC News he believed the Russian pilot simply did not see the U.S. aircraft in the dark. 
He said Russian fighter jets will often escort larger surveillance planes by orbiting around them, and that in this case, the U.S. had an aircraft "that was generally in that same area." 
Harrigian, commander of Air Force Central Command, also told NBC News that Russian military aircraft intercept U.S. military aircraft nearly every week — "every ten days-ish."
But, he said, most of those intercepts are not a "big deal."
"I think it's important to recognize this one got our attention," he said.
Harrigian said similar situations have increased over the last six weeks, especially in northwest Syria, but that in those cases, U.S. pilots "maneuvered away" from the Russian aircraft so that "didn't find ourselves in a near miss situation."
The U.S. and Russia are both flying air campaigns over Syria. The U.S. began its air war against ISIS in September 2014, while the Russians began theirs in September 2015, to shore up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces. 
The U.S. suspended its military relationship with Russia over the latter's invasion of Ukraine in February 2014, but the two sides have set up a deconfliction channel to avoid accidents over Syria.
- Updated at 5:39 p.m.