The Russian Air Force scrambled a Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jet to intercept an American B-52 strategic bomber flying over the Baltic Sea in international air space near the Russian border on Tuesday, according to a statement released by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Per the Russian government, Russia’s defensive forces were alerted to the presence of the bomber at approximate 10:00 a.m. Moscow Time. The B-52 never violated Russian airspace and was reportedly flying along a route that was parallel to the Russian border.
“On June 6 Russia’s airspace monitoring … identified an air target flying along Russia’s state border over the international waters of the Baltic Sea. A Sukhoi-27 fighter jet of the Baltic Sea Fleet’s air defense force was dispatched to intercept the target,” according to the statement, quoted by TASS, a state-owned Russian news agency.
“The crew of Russia’s Sukhoi-27 jet approached the aircraft staying at a safe distance, identified it as a US strategic bomber B-52 and escorted it for some time,” the report said.
These types of intercepts are not particularly common, but occur regularly enough that they tend not to ruffle the feathers of defense officials from either nation. Flying operations near the borders of potential opponents is a common practice for many nation’s militaries – particularly the Russians.
“A US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress flying a routine mission in support of multiple planned exercises in international airspace over the Baltic Sea was intercepted by a Russian SU-27,” according to a statement from Lt. Col. Michelle L. Baldanza, a US Army Defense Department spokeswoman.
“The crew involved is still supporting the exercise. There are a number of intercepts that take place on a regular basis. The vast majority are conducted in a safe manner,” her statement said.
Despite the regularity of these types of airborne interactions, this one in particular comes as a result of an increase in the U.S.’ military presence throughout Europe. Lat month, the United States deployed B-52 bombers and over 800 Airmen to the United Kingdom in support of ongoing NATO operations intended to improve inter-service cooperation and bolster defenses in the event of a Russian incursion into European nations like that seen in Crimea in 2014.
In a separate event that occurred the same day, a Russian MiG-31 fighter was scrambled to intercept a Norwegian P-3C Orion aircraft flying over the Barents Sea, according to a Russian Ministry of Defense statement in a TASS Report. Norway is one of the original twelve member nations that founded NATO, along with the United States.
The interceptor plane’s crew approached the target at a safe distance and visually identified it as a P-3C Orion anti-submarine warfare patrol aircraft of the Norwegian Air Force. After the Norwegian plane changed its flight route and flew away from the border of the Russian Federation, the MiG-31 fighter jet returned to its home aerodrome,” according to TASS.
An April and May, U.S. fighters were scrambled multiple times to intercept Russian TU-95 Bear bombers, as well as SU-35 fighter jet escorts, flying in international airspace near the Alaskan border. They were the first such incidents since July 4th of 2015.
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