Military activity is heating up between the U.S. and Russia across the globe. From tactical vehicle clashes in Syria to Russian warships disrupting U.S. fishing fleets near Alaska, and submarine and bomber activities on both sides, the chances for escalation are increasing daily.
One U.S. move – especially – provoked a reckless Russian reaction when Russian Su-27 jet fighters flew dangerously close to a U.S. B-52 bomber over the Black Sea.
These Russian fighters flew so close to the B-52 that their afterburners reportedly shook the massive U.S. bomber.
This was one of the most reckless and dangerous stunts the Russians have pulled yet. But why did the U.S. send a B-52 over the contentious Black Sea? With the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Black Sea has become increasingly more dangerous.
It is essentially a Russian military stronghold, filled with Russian warships and fighters, and surrounded by Russian air-defenses.
While that B-52 flight was part of a bigger U.S. bomber show of force across all of Europe and North America, the Black Sea B-52’s mission may have been more specific.
As David Axe at Forbes writes,” on Aug. 22 flew six B-52s from Minot [U.S. Air Force base in North Dakota] to the Royal Air Force base at Fairford. The bombers flew over the Arctic—where the Russian navy recently staged a mock amphibious landing—around the same time as a rarely-seen U.S. Navy submarine, USS Seawolf, also passed under the North Pole ice.”
Then, adds Axe, on Aug. 28, on a separate mission, “six U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota flew over all 30 NATO countries in a single day. Yes, even Canada.”
The earlier six B-52s flying out of the U.K. split up, one flew over NATO’s Nordic members, another B-52 flew over the Baltic area, while a third bomber flew over Portugal and Spain.
Along the way, Axe notes, a “dizzying array of alliance fighters—British Typhoons, French Mirage 2000s, Belgian F-16s, Czech Gripens, Romanian and Croatian MiG-21s, Bulgarian MiG-29s, Italian F-35s—joined up with the bombers.”
Meanwhile, another B-52H headed for the Black Sea, but it wasn’t alone; two U.S. Air Force RC-135V/W Rivet Joints four-engine electronic-intelligence gathering aircraft were nearby. Their mission? To use their sensitive electronic receivers to capture and help catalogue, Russian air defense and control radar emissions and other sensitive Russian electronic emissions.
As Axe notes that, “the U.S. Air Force has just 17 RC-135V/Ws. Committing two of them to a single mission … is a big deal.” The aggressive and reckless Russian Su-27 jet fighter response, along with myriad of other Russian air defense efforts, Axe adds — “likely handed the RC-135V/Ws lots of interesting data.”