The cat-and-mouse game between the Russians and the United States continues unabated. The US Defense Department released news of the latest incident earlier in the week, but have now provided some stunning photos of the encounter on Tuesday when a Russian fighter plane intercepted several U.S. bombers that were flying a training exercise in the Baltic Sea.
The Russian Su-27 Flanker flew alongside the US Air Force aircraft. The bombers, including the B-52H above, are part of the 2nd Bomb Wing, flying in the BALTOPS exercises.
Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis acknowledged that these types of encounters are common enough, and that most are ” ‘safe and professional.” This one, though, is being characterized as unsafe becasue of the proximity of the intercepting aircraft.
BALTOPS (Baltic Operations) is an annual drill that brings together NATO allies to work on air and naval coordination. It centers in the Baltic Sea. Russia is highly protective of the region and its airspace.
The Russians are defending their actions. The U.S. Bombers, they argue, were skirting the border of their airspace. The SU-27 met the B-52 and flew with it until it was clear of Russian airspace.
To date, these encounters have been peaceful. They’ve increased in frequency since the United States stepped up its involvement in the conflict in Syria.
The images released are visually stunning. The sunlight on the deep black of the Baltic waters show just how effective the dark grey color scheme of the Air Force is at old-school camouflage.
And the slow, steady escort of the SU-27 makes it look like the Russian pilot was positioning himself for the photo-op.