Two Russian jets flew within 100 feet of a U.S. B-52 bomber jet Friday morning in an “unsafe and unprofessional” manner while the pilot was conducting routine training over international waters in the Black Sea, the U.S. Air Force said in a statement Saturday.
The Air Force said the Russian Su-27 Flanker pilots repeatedly crossed within 100 feet of the nose of the B-52, causing turbulence and restricting the U.S. pilot’s ability to maneuver.
“Actions like these increase the potential for midair collisions, are unnecessary, and inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules,” Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander, said in the statement. “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.”
The Air Force routinely operates in the region under recognized international safety standards, the statement said.
U.S. B-52s flew over all 30 NATO countries Friday in a show of solidarity amid tensions with Russia, which is not a member.
“This single-day mission, titled ’Allied Sky,’ is intended to demonstrate NATO solidarity, enhance readiness and provide training opportunities aimed at enhancing interoperability for all participating aircrews from the U.S. and NATO allies,” the European Command statement said.
Gen. Tod Wolters, commander of U.S. European Command added, “By further enhancing our enduring relationships, we send a clear message to potential adversaries about our readiness to meet any global challenge.”
Two American F-22 fighters also intercepted three groups of Russian Tupelev jets as they entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) late Thursday night amid an “increase” in foreign military acitivity, Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said.