An interesting video showing the somehow unusual “close encounter” has emerged. In this case, the Su-27 remained at “safe distance”.
As already reported, two B-1s flew to Eastern Europe earlier today during a mission that brought the supersonic bombers over Poland, Romania and Ukraine. You can find our story and some cool shots released by the Polish, Romanian and Ukrainian Air Force here.
More details have been released by U.S. Air Force in Europe and Air Forces Africa:
This marked the first time that a Bomber Task Force mission integrated with Ukrainian Su-27 Flankers and MiG-29 Fulcrums and Turkish KC-135s.
“Bomber Task Force missions to Europe demonstrate commitment to our allies and partners all while providing a clear deterrence message to any adversary,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander. “The integration of our strategic bomber presence across Europe proves that the U.S., alongside any ally or partner, stands ready to deter, and if needed, can employ these capabilities together.”
The flight also included integration and interoperability training with Polish F-16s and MiG-29s and Romanian F-16s and MiG-21s, which provided escort and combat patrol overwatch in the Black Sea region.
A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, Turkish and U.S. KC-135s based out of Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, and other NATO aerial refueling aircraft enabled the B-1 to complete the round trip from Ellsworth Air Force Base without delay, while also providing aerial refueling support to our partner-nation aircraft.
Additionally, the B-1s integrated with Greek F-16 air policing for an overflight of Skopje, North Macedonia.
“The Bomber Task Force missions demonstrate to our NATO Allies, including our newest member – North Macedonia – that these strategic missions enhance the readiness and training necessary to respond to any potential crisis or challenge around the globe,” said Gen. Tod D. Wolters, U.S. European Command commander. “The integration and interoperability with our NATO Allies during these missions, be it aerial tanker support or fighter escorts, are indelible actions that show the Alliance is as strong as I’ve ever witnessed.”
What the U.S. Air Force statement did not mention is another interesting detail about this long-range mission: the fact that the B-1s were intercepted by Russian Air Force Su-27 and Su-30SM during the segment of their mission flown over the Black Sea.
“Su-27P and Su-30SM fighters from the air defense alert quick reaction forces of the Southern Military District were scrambled to intercept the targets,” the Russian MOD said according to the State-run TASS News Agency.
The crews of the Russian fighters approached the air targets within a safe distance and identified them as B-1B strategic aircraft, after which “the US bombers changed their flight course and flew away from the state border of Russia,” the statement runs.
As Russia’s Defense Ministry stressed, the flights of the US strategic bombers over the Baltic and Black Seas “were timely uncovered” by the air defense alert quick reaction forces of the Western and Southern Military Districts. The US aircraft were tracked by Russian radars at a considerable distance from Russia’s border.
“The flights of the Russian combat planes proceeded in strict compliance with the international rules of using the airspace,” the ministry said.
After accomplishing their mission, the Russian fighter jets safely returned to their airbases, it said.
A video of the intercept was released by the MoD. We can see a Su-27 intercept one of the B-1s (the video must have been filmed by the accompanying Flanker). Unlike what has happened during the recent famous “unprofessional” intercept of a U.S. Navy P-8 by a Su-35, this clip shows the Flanker remaining at safe distance from the BONE. Moreover, it must be remembered that the B-1 is a supersonic bomber, much faster than a P-8, so an interceptor can find it much more difficult to reach and shadow such a fast “bogey”, compared to a target with airliner performance like a Poseidon MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft) and ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft.