How Su-30 has intercepted the F-35: “He came almost out of nowhere”

11:04 11.06.2023 •

A screenshot of the video released by the Fighter Bomber instagram account showing the Russian Su-30SM and the Italian F-35A.

It is possible that a Russian Su-30 used electronic warfare systems during an interception of an F-35 over the Baltic, confesses a ‘Bulgarian military’ site.  

The background is as follows: on April 30, 2022, NATO began to respond to the Russian special military operation in Ukraine. To ‘ensure the security of the Baltic region,’ which is closest to the borders with Russia, F-35As have been sent to Estonia by the Italian Air Force [AM]. The fighter squadron hails from the 32nd Air Wing at Amendola Air Force Base in southern Italy.

Almost immediately after their arrival, the Italian F-35s began joint patrols with the Allies to carry out the “air policing” mission. Every day the planes are in the air, as well as on May 9, when the incident in question took place.

On May 9, a Russian Su-30SM was reported to have intercepted an Italian F-35 piloted by a Falco pilot. The interception takes place over the Baltic Sea. The interception was necessitated because the F-35 came close to the Russian An-12 military transport aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces [VKS]. The interception is carried out by the Su-30SM.

He came almost out of nowhere. I was very confused because I did not expect to see it so close,” the Italian pilot describes his first impressions of the sudden appearance of the Su-30SM. Falco says the Russian pilot acted defiantly. He has been lost several times. The US fighter jet’s detection and warning systems failed again and again and had to be restarted.

Seeing the Russian fighter fast approaching, Falco decided to implement the standard scheme for such cases. He turns his plane 30 degrees to maintain a safe distance. At that time, Falco plans to perform another system reboot and get out of the pesky neighbor’s electronic warfare. At first, it seemed to help.

The Italian and the Russian fly side by side. Both use slight maneuvers as if they are approaching each other, but de facto it does not happen. Normally, in border areas, military pilots are limited to warnings, but not in this case.

Su-30SM and F-35 each other. But then, Falco recalled, the Su-30 quickly fell behind and disappeared from view. For a minute, the Italian pilot loses his detection system again. And suddenly the Russian Flanker was right in front of the F-35. He passed very close, narrowly missing an American fighter with his left wing.

All of a sudden I just froze with fear. I did not expect such a dangerous maneuver from the Russians,” Falko commented on his impressions.

The Italian pilot began to smoothly make a turn on the horizon, trying with all his behavior not to cause aggression in the Russian pilot. Falco sees the Su-30 below him and the next moment dives. Falco tried to keep the Russian fighter in his sights, so he also turned the plane’s nose towards it. The Russian pilot saw the maneuvers and instantly found himself in front of him.

On board the F-35, they again began to have problems with the instruments.

The Italian pilot turns 40 degrees, once again starting to reset the detection systems. Falco briefly lost sight of the Su-30. Then the Su-30 appeared again, but this time, unlike its last maneuvers, the Su-30 flew calmly next to the F-35 and did not take any more dangerous maneuvers. At some point, the Su-30SM simply dived down and no longer challenged the F-35.

Falco understood that the Russian pilot was simply testing what the American F-35 was capable of. Falco says he knew about the abilities of the Russian Flangers even before he met one on live. He knew that flank fighters were capable of maneuverable tactical combat at a high level.

Speaking to Military History of Italy Falco says that he did not expect the latest American fighter jet with all modern systems and weapons could be so easily bypassed. Especially considering that the Su-30 is a 4th generation machine, albeit an upgraded one.


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