Russia doesn't care to have a USA reconnaissance plane flying. The only other country that has this particular type of aircraft is the UK and that is because the USA authorized the sale of a few to the UK, a NATO ally.
In the picture below the Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance plane is landing on an aircraft carrier. It is easy to state this is a highly versatile engineered flying machine.
The jet keeps the USA safe and there is no doubt about it. The plane does not fly unmanned either. The crew is aware of potential dangers as occurred with the Russian fighter jet today. The RC-135 is not armed as a combat jet.
And so it begins:
June 20, 2017
By Dan Lamothe
A Russian fighter jet (click here) came “within several feet” of an Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance plane over the Baltic Sea and lingered by the side of the U.S. plane for several minutes on Monday, U.S. military officials said.
The incident comes amid increased tensions between Russia and the United States following the shoot-down Sunday of a Syrian fighter jet by a U.S. Navy Super Hornet after the Syrians bombed U.S.-backed fighters in northern Syria. Russia, which is aligned with the Syrian government and is carrying out military operations in Syria alongside it, condemned the incident and said Monday that it would track U.S. aircraft over Syria.
The Russian Su-27 maneuvered its wingtip within a few feet of the larger, slower RC-135 for several minutes, said Meghan Henderson, a spokeswoman for U.S. European Command. The Pentagon considered the incident, known as an “intercept,” unsafe because of the “high rate of closure speed” and the “poor control of the aircraft” that the Russian pilot had, Henderson said....
Plane history and variant details:
The RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft was developed by Boeing in the early 60’s from C-135 Stratolifter. It is a major variant of the C-135. This reconnaissance aircraft was adopted by the US Air Force in 1962 as the RC-135. It is referred by the Boeing company as the Model 739. Although the Boeing RC-135 has been in the service for over half a century, its operators plan to keep it employed for a few decades more. This aircraft remains among the USAF's most important strategic reconnaissance assets. The United Kingdom, which is the only country outside the US that uses the RC-135, plans to use these aircraft until 2045.
The US Air Force has been using this aircraft since 1962 and since, it was used in every of their military operations, starting from the Vietnam War. A total of 32 airframes of this type of aircraft were built. Currently 22 units are still in the US Air Force inventory. These are either RC-135S, RC-135U, RC-135V, or RC-135W variant. All of these reconnaissance aircraft are assigned to Air Combat Command, and often operate from US bases or using various forward deployment locations worldwide. The Royal Air Force operates a small number of these aircraft. Recently one of them flew missions against the Islamic State.
This aircraft gathers electronic and signal intelligence worldwide. It can operate at a theatre, or country level. This reconnaissance plane has near real-time on scene intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination capabilities...
...RRC-135S Cobra Ball (click here) is a measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT) collection aircraft. It was designed to observe and track ballistic missile flights and monitor their signals at long range.This aircraft was fitted with special electro-optical instruments. Two RC-135S aircraft were converted from C-135B transports in 1969. These can be identified by a black engines and right wing. One aircraft was lost in 1981, however another was converted in 1983. The third aircraft was converted from the RC-135X in the late 1990s. So currently three of these aircraft are in service. There is one more TC-135S training aircraft, that was modified from the EC-135B. This trainer does not carry any mission equipment....