Six US Air Force Bombers Fly Over The Black Sea To Bait The Russians - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Six US Air Force Bombers Fly Over The Black Sea To Bait The Russians

The U.S. Air Force is sending six B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers to fly over each of NATO’s 30 members, a gesture meant to signal the alliance’s unity.

Four bombers, took off from Royal Air Force Fairford in the United Kingdom, passed over NATO’s European members, according to a statement by U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany.


B- 52 Bomber
On Aug. 28, six U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota flew over all 30 NATO countries in a single day.

Yes, even Canada.

This theatrical display of air power wasn’t just for show. It apparently also was the bait in a carefully-planned intelligence-gathering operation targeting Russian air-defenses around the Black Sea.

The Air Force on Aug. 22 flew six B-52s from Minot to the Royal Air Force base at Fairford. The bombers flew over the Arctic—where the Russian navy recently staged a mock amphibious landing—around the same time as a rarely-seen U.S. Navy submarine, USS Seawolf, also passed under the North Pole ice.


Six days later four of the bombers at Fairford, plus two still in the United States, took off in the morning and fanned out across Canada and Europe before returning to base in the afternoon.

They flew higher than 20,000 feet at top speeds exceeding 400 miles per hour.

Of the United Kingdom-based B-52s, one flew over NATO’s Nordic members. Another headed across the Baltic region. A third flew west to cross over Portugal and Spain. A dizzying array of alliance fighters—British Typhoons, French Mirage 2000s, Belgian F-16s, Czech Gripens, Romanian and Croatian MiG-21s, Bulgarian MiG-29s, Italian F-35s—joined up with the bombers.

The fourth B-52, call-sign “NATO01,” had the most interesting flight path. NATO01, a B-52H built in 1961, headed for the Black Sea, which since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014 steadily has become more dangerous. Russian warships and fighters crisscross the sea. Russian air-defense systems ring it.

Understanding those Russian defenses is top job of NATO intelligence. Which apparently is why, when NATO01 flew through international air space over the Black Sea, two U.S. Air Force RC-135V/W Rivet Joints were nearby.

The four-engine RC-135V/Ws are electronic-intelligence systems. Using sensitive receivers, they listen for, and help to catalogue, enemy radars and other sensors. The U.S. Air Force has just 17 RC-135V/Ws. Committing two of them to a single mission … is a big deal.

Russian forces went on alert as NATO01 passed through. Two armed Su-27 fighters flew so close to the B-52 that their afterburners rocked the eight-engine bomber.

“Actions like these increase the potential for midair collisions, are unnecessary and inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander.

But the same Russian response—not only fighter-intercepts but sea- and ground-base air-defense efforts—likely handed the RC-135V/Ws lots of interesting data.







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