On the morning of August 28, two Russian Su-27 Flanker fighters intercepted a US Air Force B-52 bomber over the Black Sea in international waters. What appeared to be a routine approach turned out to be a risk for the three aircraft.
As a video released by the Pentagon shows, the two Sukhoi approached a short distance from the B-52, crossing in front of the bomber at less than 100 feet. According to the USAF, the maneuver caused turbulence and restricted the maneuverability of the American plane.
The U.S. Air Forces commander in Europe and Africa considered the attitude of the pilots ‘unsafe and unprofessional’. “Actions like these increase the potential for midair collisions, are unnecessary, and inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian. “While the Russian aircraft were operating in international airspace, they jeopardized the safety of flight of the aircraft involved. We expect them to operate within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent accidents,” he added.
“Our B-52 Stratofortress aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace exercising our freedom of navigation and overflight. The U.S. Air Force routinely operates aircraft in the region in accordance with recognized international safety standards as prescribed in International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rules of flight”.
The Russian government, however, denied the US accusation. “The pilots of the Russian jets approached the flying object at a safe distance and identified it as a US Air Force B-52 bomber,” said the Russian National Defense Control Center.
In recent weeks, the Russian Air Force has frequently intercepted Western aircraft in international zones. In the past few days, the country’s government has also carried out drills in the Baltic and Arctic with Tu-142, Tu-95MS, Su-24 and Il-78 planes that were intercepted by NATO fighters.