Russian Su-27 and Su-30 fighter jets intercepted U.S. B-1B Lancer bombers in a pair of incidents over the Baltic Sea and Black Sea, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the fighter jets followed the bombers at a safe distance until the U.S. bombers eventually diverted. Russia said its fighter pilots observed international rules as they intercepted the planes.
A video posted by Russia’s Defense Ministry Facebook page appears to have shown one of the intercept cases.
“On May 29, 2020, the duty forces for air defense of the Western and Southern military districts timely revealed the actions of strategic US Air Force B-1B bombers over neutral waters of Black and Baltic Seas and they were escorted by Russian fighters,” the Defense Ministry said, according to a translated caption.
Earlier in the day the USAFE-AFAFRICA twitter account, representing U.S. Air Force units in Europe and Africa, tweeted that two B-1B Lancers flew in a multinational bomber task force mission over the Baltic Sea region with aircraft from Poland, Romania, Greece, and North Macedonia aircraft.
“The two B-1B Lancers also flew with Poland, Romania, Greece, & North Macedonia aircraft during today’s long-range, long duration strategic #BomberTaskForce mission throughout Europe and the Black Sea region,” the Air Force account tweeted.
The two B-1B Lancers also flew with Poland, Romania, Greece, & North Macedonia aircraft during today’s long-range, long duration strategic #BomberTaskForce mission throughout Europe and the Black Sea region. #StrongerTogether
— USAFE-AFAFRICA (@HQUSAFEAFAF) May 29, 2020
According to an accompanying press release, the U.S. Air Force Bomber Task Force integrated with fighter jets from various other nations, including Ukrainian Su-27 fighters; the same jets Russia said it used to intercept the bombers later on Friday.
The Bomber Task Force also integrated with Polish F-16s and MiG-29s and Romanian F-16s and MiG-21s, which provided escort and combat patrol overwatch as it flew over the Black Sea Region.
The reported intercepts are the latest in a series of interactions between U.S. and Russian aircraft over Europe.
Russian Su-35 fighter jets closely intercepted a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon over the Mediterranean on Tuesday. The incident was documented on video and photographed by members of the Navy flight crew. Russian planes had intercepted U.S. P-8A planes over the Mediterranean in two prior cases before the Tuesday incident.
The first April 15 incident even saw the Su-35 jet in question flying an inverted pass within feet of the P-8A. The second close intercept incident occurred four days later on April 19, when a Russian Su-35 jet once again flew within 25 feet of a P-8A patrolling over the Mediterranean.