US B-52H bombers Intercepted By Russian Su-27 Flanker Jets Over the Black and Baltic Seas

Composite image showing a B-52 a Su-27 and the track of HODOR52 as seen on (via @wipljw)

U.S. B-52H bombers flying from their homebase at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, flew all the way to the Black and Baltic Seas today. Not very usual.

On Jun. 17, three B-52 Stratofortress bombers belonging to the 5th Bomb Wing, were involved in round-trip missions from Minot AFB, ND, to Europe.

The three aircraft (60-0009/”HODOR 51″, 61-0038/”HODOR52″, 61-0005/”HODOR53″) crossed the Atlantic Ocean in two flights: HODOR 51-52 reached UK first, followed about 30 minutes later by HODOR 53, flying as a single ship.

While the first flight of B-52s (that could be tracked online) continued southeast bound towards Romania and the Black Sea, HODOR 53 went eastbound, and was reported over Kiel, on Germany’s Baltic coast.

We don’t know where HODOR 53 flew afterwards, but for sure it was reported to have been intercepted by the Russian Air Force in international airspace over the Baltic Sea (most probably not far from Kaliningrad Oblast, where Su-27 Flankers are based to provide Quick Reaction Alert duties) before returning to its base in the CONUS (Continental US).

Same happened, always according to Russian TASS News Agency, to HODOR 51-52 flight, that was intercepted in international airspace over the Black Sea by Russian Flanker launched from Crimea.

Later, the HODOR 51-52 were spotted flying northwestbound over the Netherlands.

Nothing too nefarious (although the U.S. has not yet confirmed the Russian reports), as close encounters between U.S./NATO aircraft and Russian jets occur regularly. However, even though it’s not the first time U.S. aircraft are intercepted by Russian aircraft, it does not happen too often that B-52s operate over the Baltic and Black Seas and are intercepted by the Russians over there.

Interestingly, on their way back home, HODOR 51 and 52 split: the latter returned to Minot AFB whereas HODOR 51 was forced to perform an emergency landing at RAF Mildenhall, UK, because of fire reported on 2 of its 8 engines.

Many supporting tankers could also be tracked online.

Update Jun. 18, 2019: the Russian MoD has released a video of the intercept:

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.