The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) entered the Black Sea on Sunday 19 July to take part in an annual NATO military exercise, several days after Russia placed its Black Sea forces on alert during a snap inspection of its military forces’ battle readiness.
The NATO military exercise Sea Breeze 2020 is co-hosted by the United States and Ukraine and involves more than 2,000 personnel from Bulgaria, Georgia, Norway, Romania, Spain and Turkey.
It will run through July 26 and focus on warfare operations such as air defence, anti-submarine warfare, damage control and search and rescue, according to a Navy press statement.
This will be the third trip into the Black Sea this year for the USS Porter, which is based in Rota, Spain.
A Navy P-8A Poseidon sub hunter aircraft is also participating. The exercise will take place exclusively at sea to help mitigate COVID-19, according to the release.
Porter’s arrival comes after Russia’s Black Sea Fleet conducted a “snap combat readiness check,” Russia’s state-run news agency TASS reported on Friday last week.
The surprise combat readiness check involved troops of the Southern and Western Military Districts, marine infantry of the Northern and Pacific Fleets and some units of the Central Command and the Airborne Force.
Overall, the drills involved 150,000 troops, over 26,000 items of military hardware, 414 aircraft and 106 warships and vessels.
For Moscow’s Black Sea-based forces, the associated drills and manoeuvres involved warships, combat aircraft and more than 3,000 personnel.
During the exercise, the ships’ crew simulated urgent battle preparations and practiced withdrawing the main forces from a notional enemy’s strike.
Sea Breeze 2020 comes as conflict continues in the east of Ukraine in a war that has killed more than 14,000 people, according to the Associated Press.
Russian jets have also intercepted US aircraft over the Black Sea and across the region on numerous occasions in recent years. LINK
Three weeks ago, the Russian Defence Ministry released video footage of what it says was an interception over neutral waters of three US planes that were flying toward its border over the Black Sea.
The ministry said it scrambled a Su-30 fighter plane that approached the US planes “at a safe distance,” after which the US planes reportedly changed course away from Russia’s border. The US planes included a RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft, a P-8 Poseidon and a KC-135 aerial refuelling aircraft, according to Russian authorities.
The following day, a pair of F-22 Raptors intercepted four Russian Tu-142 reconnaissance aircraft entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said in a statement. They came within 65 nautical miles of the Aleutian Islands and hung around for almost eight hours
The interception operation was the sixth of the month. Since Russia resumed long-range aviation activities in 2007, there has been an average of around seven intercepts a year, though the number in any given year has been from zero to 15, according to NORAD. LINK
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