Two US Air Force B-1B Lancer strategic bombers were intercepted on approach to Russian airspace over the Baltic Sea by a Sukhoi Su-27 fighter, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.
According to the ministry, Russian air defenses detected two aerial targets over the waters of the Baltic, and a fighter was dispatched to identify them and prevent any violations of the national airspace.
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The crew of the Su-27 identified the intruders as Lancers, which are long-range strategic bombers designed to carry nuclear-armed missiles and bombs. As the Russian fighter approached, the two American bombers changed course and headed away from the border.
The Russian Defense Ministry noted that no airspace violation occurred, and the interception was entirely in line with safe conduct norms and international law pertaining to neutral waters.
Earlier this month, the US sent several B-1 bombers and about 100 air service members from the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron in Dyess, Texas to the Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford base in the UK. The deployment is part of the “Bomber Task Force-Europe 24-1” mission, described as providing the US and NATO with “strategic options to assure Allies and partners, while also deterring potential adversary aggression throughout Europe and across the globe.”
The B-1B is a supersonic strategic heavy bomber in service since the 1980s and designed to penetrate Soviet air defenses and deliver nuclear weapons. Of the 100 or so produced, about 45 remain in service with the US Air Force.