Russia’s National Defense Control Center told reporters on Friday Russian radars had detected three B-52N strategic bombers which were approaching Russia’s sovereign airspace. A spokesman said: “Four Su-27 fighter jets and four Su-30 fighter jets of the Southern Military District’s air defense units on duty were scrambled to intercept the US Air Force aircraft over the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, with the aim to prevent their unauthorized incursion into the Russian airspace.”
After the US aircraft flew away from the border with Russia, the Russian jets returned to home airbases, the Center said.
The spokesman added: “All the flights of the Russian fighter jets took place in strict accordance with international airspace rules.
“The US aircraft were not allowed to illegally cross the state border of the Russian Federation.”
Earlier this evening, US European Command tweeted: “Three U.S. Air Force B-52s conducted vital integration training with Ukrainian fighters Friday inside Ukraine’s airspace.”
A statement published on US_EUCOM’s website added: “Three U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber aircraft from the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, conducted vital integration training with Ukrainian fighters Friday inside Ukraine’s airspace.
“Friday’s strategic bomber mission is part of the long-planned deployment of six B-52s to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England.
“The mission provided partners valuable midair training.
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The Aviationist website suggested the move was intended as a “clear show of force to Russia”.
An analysis published on its website suggested: “The mission appears to be yet another clear signal sent to Russia, amid worsening US–Russian relations, and reinforces the message that the Black Sea is considered strategic to the US and NATO, as shown by the recent missions flown to the region by B-1s (training on LRASM attack profiles) and F-16s (flying JASSM cruise missile tactics training).
The website also cited Twitter user Evergreen Intel, who posted GPS data and suggested the exercise could reflect a nuclear strike mission profile against targets in Russia : “Looking at what directions JULIA flight (2-3 nuclear B-52s) has in their approaches, its a bit more clear what message this sends.”
“Krasnodar is home to the 1st Guards Rocket Brigade.
“Rostov-on-Don is HQ to Southern Military District.
“Sevastopol is home to Black Sea Fleet.”
The latest incident comes a day after Russian MiG-31 jet fighter was similarly scrambled to intercept a US RC-135 and a UK Sentinel reconnaissance planes over the Barents Sea far to the north.
A spokesman for the National Defense Control Center said: “The Russian plane’s crew identified the air targets as the US Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance plane and the UK Royal Air Force’s R.1 Sentinel reconnaissance plane.”
Just as today, after the NATO planes turned away, the MiG-31 returned to base, the Center said.
(This is a breaking story – more to follow)