These are the amazing scenes which show a Russian-built fighter jet taking on a US Air Force F-16 in a mock dogfight – in what could be a sign that America is preparing for the possibility of war with Moscow.
The images were captured by air traffic controller Phil Drake in the skies above Area 51 in Nevada, one of the world’s most secret military bases, on the day Donald Trump was elected President.
According to Drake, the aircraft in the photographs are a single seater Sukhoi Su-27P and America’s veteran F-16.
He was visiting the desert surrounding Area 51 on November 8, the day of the Presidential election. He hoped to see some fast jets involved in a training mission.
The 42-year-old enthusiast from Hampshire in the UK said he thinks his images are the first of such an encounter in the United States.
He said the Russian jet was a Su-27P Flanker-B – which has never been officially imported into the United States.
‘This aircraft was anonymous and unidentifiable, apart from the Soviet style camouflage it wore,’ he said. ‘After they finished their mission they flew into Groom Lake’s highly restricted airspace.
Shooting from Tikaboo Valley, near Groom Lake (Area 51’s official name), Drake had to push his camera zoom to the limit to document the incident.
He said: ‘The planes were operating above 20,000 feet, and a couple of miles east of me, so the distance between me and the planes was at least six miles. They were literally specks in the sky, but of course that’s the reason that no-one has photographed them before.
‘Initially, during the mission, the aircraft were just outside of Area 51 airspace.
‘The Americans practice air to air combat with Russian aircraft to give them an advantage in combat. They also try out new weapons systems on aircraft to test their effectiveness against a bona fide Russian-built target.