On September 4th, United States Air Force B-52H Stratofortress strategic bombers carried out a “historical flight” in Ukrainian airspace.
The strategic bombers were accompanied by Ukrainian Air Force Su-27s.
After arriving in Ukrainian airspace, the bombers orbited for an extended while along the borders of Crimea, and the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.
Three B-52Hs, with the call signs Julia 51, 52, and 53 departed RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom on Sept. 4, 2020. There are conflicting reports about whether the third bomber took part in the mission to Ukraine, but only two of them were ever visible on online flight tracking software.
First time in history that an USAF strategic bomber enters Ukrainian airspace. pic.twitter.com/22wvBg5rQt
— Manu Gómez (@GDarkconrad) September 4, 2020
Ukrainian Su-27s overflying Odessa, possibly escorting the US B-52s earlier. pic.twitter.com/gmHPIrgoqy
— Status-6 (@Archer83Able) September 4, 2020
In addition, a number of U.S. aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, as well as those from the United Kingdom, were seen operating in the area at the time.
This included an Air Force RC-135V/W Rivet Joint spy plane, as well as an RAF Airseeker, which is derived from the Rivet Joint.
A RAF Sentinel R1, a radar platform based on the Bombardier Global Express business jet, was also present for a time.
This is the most intensive SIGINT bait I've seen in a while.
At least two USAF RC-135V/W Rivet Joint SIGINT planes recording the Russian emissions (radar, comms etc.) from #Crimea and #Russia as a flight of B-52H bombers circle along the Azov coast in Ukrainian airspace. https://t.co/UGv8EukU3C
— Petri Mäkelä (@pmakela1) September 4, 2020
(NOW IN UKRAINE AIRSPACE)
RC-135 RIVET JOINT
LOCATIONS AT 08:50Z pic.twitter.com/1dTp7mOTtm
— BlueSky (@AirSpecInt) September 4, 2020
Later on, it turned out that it wasn’t the first time in history that US bombers are in Ukraine, but rather – third.
B-52 (with B-1B and KC-10A Extender) already were in Poltava in 1994 and in B-1b were over Ukraine in May, 2020 pic.twitter.com/IY5MNG1Fmu
— Sovinskiy (@_Sovinskiy) September 4, 2020
It also follows a US B-25H Stratofortress strategic bombers flight above all 30 NATO member states in 1 day to testify to US commitment to defense of all members of the alliance.
In addition, as noted, in May 2020, B-1 bombers also trained in the region together with Ukrainian fighter jets, including conducting mock anti-ship operations clearly meant to send a signal to the Kremlin and the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet.
Last year, a B-52, also part of a detachment at Fairford for a short-term deployment, made a run in the Black Sea at Crimea that mirrored what one might expect to see in an actual strike on targets there involving the employment of air-launched cruise missiles, too.
U.S. European Command (EUCOM) has confirmed that three B-52 bombers took part in the mission over Ukraine, as did Ukrainian fighter jets, in a press release. The full release is as follows:
“Three U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber aircraft from the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, conducted vital integration training with Ukrainian fighters Friday inside Ukraine’s airspace.
Friday’s strategic bomber mission is part of the long-planned deployment of six B-52s to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England. The mission provided partners valuable midair training. In addition, the mission demonstrated how forward-located aircraft and crews, such as those in the B-52 units, enable collective defense capabilities and provide the U.S., NATO Allies and partners strategic and operational breadth to deter Russia and assure Allies and partners.”
More than 200 related missions have been conducted since the Bomber Task Force launched operations in the European theater two years ago. These ongoing bomber missions showcase the U.S. Air Force’s ability to continually execute flying missions, sustain readiness and support Allies and partners across Europe, regardless of external challenges to include the current global COVID-19 crisis response.”
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- US Plan To Establish Asia-Pacific ‘NATO-type’ Formal Alliance Against China
- Russian Su-27 Fighter Jets Intercept U.S. B-52H Strategic Bomber Over Black Sea
- US B-52 Bomber ‘Loses’ Experimental Hypersonic Missile Over California