Russian Su-27 fighter jet intercepts US Air Force B-1B bombers

Two US Air Force B-1B bombers flying over the Baltic Sea were intercepted by a Russian Su-27 fighter plane. On Tuesday, May 24, 2023, Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder stated that two US B-1B bombers were participating in a planned drill.


The engagement between the two countries air forces was regarded as "safe and professional" by Ryder. "So, we have two B-1 bombers that are part of a bomber task force [...] that we fly around the world in various countries on a regular basis." This is a long-planned exercise in Europe, and my impression is that the encounter with Russian planes was safe and professional. "So, nothing noteworthy to report on that front," Ryder said at a press conference. 


At the time, American jets were flying in international airspace. The Russian air force also issued a statement regarding the incident, stating that the Su-27 fighter jet was despatched to prevent the US jets from "violating" its boundary. "The Russian fighter crew classified the air targets as two US Air Force B-1B strategic bombers and occupied the established air watch zone," Russian officials claimed.  "Following the removal of foreign military aircraft from the Russian Federation's state border, the Russian fighter returned to its home airfield." According to Russia's Defense Ministry, "the flight of the Russian fighter was conducted in strict accordance with international rules for the use of airspace."


In international airspace, it is not commonplace for NATO and Russian planes to intercept each other's aircraft. However, a March 2023 incident in which a US MQ-9 Reaper drone was hit by a Russian Su-27 fighter jet raised tensions during such contacts.

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