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Navy releases new video of Russian jets, helicopter buzzing USS Donald Cook

By BROCK VERGAKIS | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: May 16, 2016

NORFOLK, Va. (Tribune News Service) — The Navy has released new video of two Russian jets buzzing the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea last month, as well as video of a Russian helicopter circling the destroyer.

The Navy released nearly two dozen videos of the incident in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from The Virginian-Pilot. The Navy had previously uploaded four videos to YouTube of two Russian Su-24 jets making close-range, low-altitude passes near the ship on April 11 and and 12.

The newly released videos show additional angles and commentary from sailors narrating what's happening. At one point, a U.S. sailor is heard saying "Oh my God" as the jets pass close by. The Russian jets repeatedly flew next to and over the Donald Cook in what the Navy says was a simulated attack profile and didn't respond to repeated safety advisories issued in English and Russian.

The Navy criticized the passes by the jets and the KA-27 Helix helicopter. The Russian jets appeared unarmed and the helicopter's crew was seen photographing the Donald Cook.

"We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers," the Navy said in an April 13 statement about the incident. "These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries and could result in a miscalculation or accident that could cause serious injury or death."

Russia's Defense Ministry in April said the Navy's criticism was "not consistent with reality" and that the Russian aircraft had "performed strictly in accordance with the international regulations on the use of airspace."

The Donald Cook was based in Norfolk until 2014, when it moved to Rota, Spain. A Russian Su-24 Fencer attack aircraft repeatedly flew near the the Donald Cook in the Black Sea that year.

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Two Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft fly over USS Donald Cook on April 12, 2016 in the Baltic Sea.
U.S. NAVY

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