On Monday, a US Air Force plane conducted a routine reconnaissance mission near the Russian border at Kaliningrad, according to western sites that track the flights of military aircraft, Interfax reported.
According to the information, US Air Force Strategic Reconnaissance Aircraft RC-135W, tail number 62-4138 and call sign DERN40, took off from an airbase in Mildenhall, England and approached the reconnaissance mission from the southwest over Poland. Flying at an altitude of 30,800 ft (9,400 m), it conducted radio intelligence for at least three hours near Russian territory, at times coming as close as 37 miles (60 km) from the border.
According to public sources, the RC-135 aircraft is designed for interception, recording, and analysis of radio transmissions, revealing the location, structure, and operating characteristics of radio command and control operations, air defense, and enemy aircraft. The main purpose of the aircraft is to carry out missions involving radio intelligence.
Over the past year, the frequency of reconnaissance missions by US spy planes near the Russian border has risen sharply, particularly over the Baltic Sea and the coast of the annexed Crimea, Russian bases in Syria, and areas where Russian warships are deployed in the eastern Mediterranean. There are at least two or three of such flights almost every day.
Recently, near the border of Kaliningrad, there have also been reconnaissance missions flown by Britain’s Royal Air Force, the German Navy, and the French Air Force. Airborne Warning and Control Aircraft (AWACS) under NATO command also regularly fly close to the Russian border on the Baltic.
During a meeting of NATO defense ministers held on February 16th in Brussels, at least seven US and NATO aircraft were involved in intelligence operations against Russia in the Baltic Sea and Black Sea.