Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers and two KC-135 Stratotanker tankers were intercepted Tuesday over the waters of the Black Sea by Su-30 fighter jets, according to Russian Defense Ministry.
“On October 19, 2021, Russian airspace control pinpointed air targets approaching Russia’s state border over the neutral waters of the Black Sea. Two Su-30 fighter jets from the naval aviation and air defense forces took off to identify the air targets and prevent a violation of Russia’s state border, the ministry reported.
The ministry specified that the Su-30 crews identified the air targets as two supersonic strategic B-1B bombers belonging to the US Air Force accompanied by two KC-135 tanker planes and escorted them over the waters of the Black Sea. The Ministry of Defense noted that following the turnaround of foreign military aircraft from Russia’s state border, the Su-30s safely returned to the airfield base.
“The flight of the Russian planes was carried out in strict accordance with international rules for the use of airspace. A violation of Russia’s state border was not allowed,” the ministry stressed. According to a recent U.S. Air Force news release, two B-1B Lancer aircraft from the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, currently deployed to RAF Fairford for Bomber Task Force Europe, executed a counter maritime mission in the Black Sea region today alongside European allies and partners.
The extended length of the mission required air refueling support from RAF Mildenhall’s KC-135 Stratotankers and a Turkish Air Force KC-135. NATO air refueling increases the combined effectiveness of the alliance by extending the range and duration of the strategic bomber missions.
“Our forces are postured to respond to any threat, anywhere, anytime,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, USAFE-AFAFRICA commander.“BTF provides enhanced interoperability training with our allies and partners, building coalition strength, and bolstering our ability to respond to all threats with unmatched power.”
The strategic bombers also integrated with Romanian, Polish, and Canadian fighters, supporting the NATO Air Policing mission over Romania, as they transited through the region and throughout the maritime targeting mission. U.S. Strategic Command has supported BTF deployments since 2018, which amplifies the European Deterrence Initiative’s focus on expanding partnerships and advancing coalition capabilities throughout the European theater.