The “unsafe” intercept over the Black Sea was not the only incident between a U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber and a Russian Su-27 Flanker last week.
As we have already reported with several details, images and maps, six U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers participated in Allied Sky, a single-day mission that saw the BUFFs overflying all 30 NATO nations on Aug. 28, 2020.
Allied Sky was conducted by two teams: four B-52 Stratofortresses out of six currently deployed to Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford, U.K., as part of Bomber Task Force 20-4, were tasked to cover European portion of the mission; two B-52 Stratofortresses assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, N. D., flew over the NATO nations of Canada and the United States.
The four B-52s flying in Europe were the airframes 61-0034, 60-0005, 60-0007 and 60-0056. The B-52H 61-0034/NATO 01 was the only one to use its Mode-S transponder: it could be tracked online during its long trip using the popular flight tracking websites ADSBExchange, PlaneRadar.ru, Airnav RadarBox etc. from RAF Fairford across Eastern Europe to the Black Sea area and then back via (among the others) Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and France. During the segment flown over the Black Sea off Crimea, 61-0034/NATO 01 was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 that carried out also an aggressive maneuver crossing in front of the nose of the B-52 shown in a video that has become viral.
However, the intercept over the Black Sea, deemed to be “unsafe and unprofessional” by the Pentagon, wasn’t the only close encounter between the B-52s involved in the one-day Allied Sky mission.
In the late afternoon of Friday, August 28, a B52 bomber of the United States Air Force was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 fighter in international airspace over the Baltic Sea. The intercept occurred as the B52 bomber was closing in on Danish airspace in the vicinity of the Island of Bornholm. The Russian Su-27, flying from Kaliningrad, followed the B52 well into Danish airspace over the island, committing a significant violation of airspace of a NATO nation,” says an official NATO press release.
“This incident demonstrates Russia’s disrespect of international norms and for the sovereign airspace of an Allied nation. We remain vigilant, ready and prepared to secure NATO airspace 24/7,” said General Jeff Harrigian, Commander of NATO’s Allied Air Command.
According to the NATO statement: “Danish Quick Reaction Alert aircraft were launched to counter the violation, however the violating Russian fighters turned back before interception. The Danish jets remained airborne and patrolling to protect the sovereignty of Danish airspace. The unauthorised intrusion of sovereign airspace is a significant violation of international law. Friday’s incident is the first of this kind for several years and indicates a new level of Russian provocative behavior.”
We don’t have further details about the B-52H involved in the incident nor its route (because it did not fly with its Mode-S transponder turned on), however, considered it flew to the Baltic region (being escorted off Lithuania for some shots by the RAF Typhoons and the French Mirage 2000s supporting the Baltic Air Policing mission) it seems quite likely that the airframe was 60-0005/NATO 02.