The Pentagon has released new video of a Russian Su-27 fighter jet veering directly into the path of an American B-52 bomber in what US officials decried as an ‘unsafe and unprofessional’ intercept.
The B-52 was conducting ‘routine operations’ over the Black Sea on Friday morning when two Russian Su-27s crossed within 100ft of its nose multiple times in international airspace, the Air Force said in a statement Saturday.
In one particularly alarming clip, one of Su-27s is seen pulling up next to the B-52’s left wing before swerving directly in front of its nose.
The Russian pilots conducted the dangerous maneuver – which is often referred to as ‘thumping’ or a ‘head-butt’ and can be extremely dangerous – by shifting into afterburner mode.
In modern aviation, when pilots activate afterburners, it injects fuel directly into the exhaust stream of a turbine engine, increasing the thrust so that the aircraft can accelerate.
The Pentagon said the repeated maneuvers caused turbulence for the B-52, making it difficult for the pilot to maintain control of the aircraft.
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Video captured the moment a Russian Su-27 fighter jet veered directly into the path of an American B-52 bomber over the Black Sea on Friday morning in what US officials decried as an ‘unsafe and unprofessional’ intercept
The B-52 was conducting ‘routine operations’ over the Black Sea on Friday morning when two Russian Su-27s crossed within 100ft of its nose multiple times in international airspace, the Air Force said in a statement Saturday. One of Su-27s is seen pulling up next to the B-52’s left wing
The Su-27 is seen flying directly in front of the B-52 in a dangerous maneuver referred to as ‘thumping’ or a ‘head-butt’
The Russian government claims that the B-52 was flying toward the Russian border, while the Americans say the bomber was in international airspace
‘Actions like these increase the potential for midair collisions, are unnecessary, and inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules,’ said General Jeff Harrigian of US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander.
‘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 Russian government did not share the American assessment of the incident.
The Defense Ministry in Moscow said in a statement that the American B-52 was ‘approaching the state border of the Russian Federation.’
‘To identify the air target and prevent violation of the state border of Russia, two Su-27 fighters were raised into the air,’ according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
‘After the foreign military plane turned away from the state border, the Russian fighter safely returned to the home airfield.
Video released by the Russian Ministry of Defense shows an American B-52 bomber being intercepted by Russian Su-27 jets over the Black Sea on Friday morning
The above stock image shows a Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jet. Russian aircraft routinely fly close to American planes that patrol sensitive regions
The above image is a file photo of a B-52G Stratofortress bomber. The United States on Friday flew six B-52 bombers over all 30 NATO alliance members in what military observers say is a show of force
‘The entire flight of Russian Su-27 fighters took place strictly in accordance with international rules for the use of airspace.
‘The American aircraft was not allowed to violate the state border of the Russian Federation.’
Russian and American planes frequently intercept each other over in international airspace that borders sensitive areas with geopolitical significance.
The incident is the latest indicator of increased military tensions between the two Cold War-era foes.
The Russian military on Thursday blamed US troops for a collision of Russian and US military vehicles in Syria’s northeast.
US officials said Wednesday that a Russian vehicle sideswiped a light-armored US military vehicle, injuring four Americans, while two Russian helicopters flew overhead, one as close as 70 feet from the US vehicle.
On Friday, the US military flew B-52 bombers over all 30 NATO member countries in what is perceived by observers as a show of force meant to dispel doubts about Washington’s commitment to the alliance.
High-speed confrontation: This is the moment before the Russian vehicle from which the video footage came hits the US armored vehicle as the two patrols move fast across a field in the east of Syria with a Russian military helicopter flying low overhead
Rammed: The Russian video captures the moment the Kremlin’s armored vehicle hits its U.S. equivalent. Four American troops were injured, with minor concussions
Russian presence: One still from the video shows how the Russian armored vehicle which rammed the American troop-carrier was not alone – at the right is another armored Russian vehicle
‘Six US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers will fly over all 30 NATO nations in Europe and North America on August 28,’ US European Command said in a statement Friday.
Meanwhile, the Russian navy conducted major war games near Alaska involving dozens of ships and aircraft, the military said on Friday, the biggest such drills in the area since Soviet times.
Russia’s navy chief, Adm. Nikolai Yevmenov, said that more than 50 warships and about 40 aircraft were taking part in the exercise in the Bering Sea, which involved multiple practice missile launches.
‘We are holding such massive drills there for the first time ever,’ Yevmenov said in a statement released by the Russian Defense Ministry.
As part of the exercises, the Russian nuclear submarine Omsk surfaced near Alaska on Thursday, U.S. military officials said.
Russia’s Varyag missile cruiser fires a cruise missile as part of the Russian navy maneuvers in the Bering Sea in this undated video grab provided by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service
Russian warships take part in maneuvers in the Bering Sea in this undated video grab provided by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service
The North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command are closely monitoring the submarine, Northern Command spokesman Bill Lewis said.
‘We have not received any requests for assistance from the Russian Navy or other mariners in the area,’ Lewis said from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. ‘We always stand ready to assist those in distress.’
Lewis declined to provide further details about the submarine, including its proximity to Alaska. He only said it was operating in international waters near Alaska.
‘We closely track vessels of interest, including foreign military naval vessels, in our area of responsibility,’ Lewis said.
The Russian military exercise is taking place in international waters, well outside the US territorial sea, he said.
The presence of Russian military assets in the war games caused a stir for U.S. commercial fishing vessels in the Bering Sea on Wednesday, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
‘We were notified by multiple fishing vessels that were operating out the Bering Sea that they had come across these vessels and were concerned. So they contacted us,’ Coast Guard spokesman Kip Wadlow said earlier Thursday.
The Russian nuclear submarine Omsk is seen in a file photo. The submarine surfaced in international waters near Alaska on Thursday, US military officials confirmed
A Russian submariner looks in periscope during a naval exercise in the Bering Sea, in this undated video grab provided by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service
A Russian submarine surfaces during naval maneuvers in the Bering Sea. The Russian navy has conducted massive war games near Alaska involving dozens of ships and aircraft
The Coast Guard contacted the Alaskan Command at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, which confirmed the ships were there as part of a pre-planned Russian military exercise that was known to some U.S. military officials, Wadlow said.
Wadlow did not have information about the scope of the exercise or how many Russian vessels were involved, referring those questions to the Alaskan Command.
Officials at the Anchorage base referred questions to Air Force officials at the U.S. Northern Command.
It wasn’t immediately clear when the exercises began or if they had finished.
Yevmenov emphasized that the war games are part of Russia´s efforts to boost its presence in the Arctic region and protect its resources.
‘We are building up our forces to ensure the economic development of the region,’ he said. ‘We are getting used to the Arctic spaces.’
The Russian military has rebuilt and expanded numerous facilities across the polar region in recent years, revamping runways and deploying additional air defense assets.
Russian warships take part in maneuvers in the Bering Sea in an image from Russian military
Russia has prioritized boosting its military presence in the Arctic region, which is believed to hold up to one-quarter of the Earth´s undiscovered oil and gas. Russian President Vladimir Putin has cited estimates that put the value of Arctic mineral riches at $30 trillion.
Russia’s Pacific Fleet, whose assets were taking part in the maneuvers, said the Omsk nuclear submarine and the Varyag missile cruiser launched cruise missiles at a practice target in the Bering Sea as part of the exercise.
The maneuvers also saw Onyx cruise missiles being fired at a practice target in the Gulf of Anadyr from the coast of the Chukchi Peninsula, it added.
Russian state RIA Novosti news agency quoted Russia’s Pacific Fleet sources as saying that the surfacing of the Omsk nuclear submarine was routine.
Also late Thursday, NORAD sent F-22 fighter jets to intercept three groups of two Tu-142 Russian maritime patrol aircraft that came close to Alaska.
The Russian aircraft remained in the area for about five hours and came within 50 nautical miles of Alaska. Officials said the Russian jets remained in international air space, and at no time entered United States or Canadian sovereign air space.
‘Our northern approaches have had an increase in foreign military activity as our competitors continue to expand their military presence and probe our defenses,’ Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, commander of NORAD, said in a statement. ‘
A cruise missile is launched from a submarine during Russian navy drills in the Bering Sea
This year, we´ve conducted more than a dozen intercepts, the most in recent years. The importance of our continued efforts to project air defense operations in and through the north has never been more apparent.’
It cited former Russian navy’s chief of staff, retired Adm. Viktor Kravchenko, as saying that by having the submarine surface in the area the navy may have wanted to send a deliberate signal.
‘It’s a signal that we aren’t asleep and we are wherever we want,’ RIA Novosti quoted Kravchenko as saying.
The presence of Russian military assets in the area caused a stir for U.S. commercial fishing vessels in the Bering Sea on Wednesday.
‘We were notified by multiple fishing vessels that were operating out the Bering Sea that they had come across these vessels and were concerned,’ U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Kip Wadlow said Thursday.
The Coast Guard contacted the Alaskan Command at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, which confirmed the ships were there as part of a pre-planned Russian military exercise that was known to some U.S. military officials, he said.
The Russian military has expanded the number and the scope of its war games in recent years as Russia-West relations have sunk to their lowest level since the Cold War after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, and other crises.