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U.S. Expands Its Intelligence Gathering Missions In Black Sea After Kerch Strait Incident: Report

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U.S. Expands Its Intelligence Gathering Missions In Black Sea After Kerch Strait Incident: Report

ILLUSTRATIVE IMAGE

The US intensified its Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) presence in the Black Sea after the incident between a Ukrainian naval group and Russian coastal guards near the Kerch Strait, an analysis by the Aviationist showed.

Following the incident on the morning of November 25th, the US increased the presence of airborne assets in the Black Sea region. In the days following the incident, the US dispatched ISR aircraft from both the US Air Force and Navy to monitor the situation on the ground and the movement of personnel and equipment.

Specifically, the US used the maritime surveillance aircraft P-8A Poseidon and RQ-4 Global Hawk UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) from Naval Air Station Sigonella (Sicily, Italy) in addition to a RC-135 Rivet Joint and EP-3E ARIES II electronic reconnaissance aircraft from Souda Bay (Crete, Greece).

Earlier, it was reported that Russia sent an Su-25 attack aircraft and Ka-52 combat helicopters to the Crimean bridge, following the incident. Presence of any other aircraft in the area was unknown. US reconnaissance aircraft routinely operates over the Black Sea and they are often intercepted by Russian aircraft. However, from November 26th onwards the US Air Force has kept a significant presence in the Black Sea and Crimea area.

The analysis is based on various public domain sources and estimates based on time, speed and position. It further leverages on the contribution of sources from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, forums and various other social and private networks, who provided additional details, logs and hints.

The below table provides all US ISR flights identified in the area between November 26th and December 5th:

U.S. Expands Its Intelligence Gathering Missions In Black Sea After Kerch Strait Incident: Report

IMAGE: theaviationist.com

The list highlights the variety of movements and airborne assets that were utilized over the area. Most of the flights, and especially RQ-4 ones had a repetitive character in the days that followed in terms of routing.

The routes are along Russia’s sovereign airspace, which as per international law spans 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) from its coastline.

The main track was deduced by studying the movements of US reconnaissance aircraft covers the entire area around the southern part of Crimea and is approximately 450 nautical miles in length and in a form that provides the ability the monitor the entire area from different angles. All aircraft that were confirmed to be in the area used the track, partially or in full. The route has been simplified and the waypoints have been designated as WEST, EAST, SOUTH.

U.S. Expands Its Intelligence Gathering Missions In Black Sea After Kerch Strait Incident: Report

IMAGE: theaviationist.com

In the night between November 25th and 26th a Sigonella-based RQ-4 UAV was launched as FORTE10. Its flight lasted 21 hours and its route looked the following way:

U.S. Expands Its Intelligence Gathering Missions In Black Sea After Kerch Strait Incident: Report

IMAGE: theaviationist.com

U.S. Expands Its Intelligence Gathering Missions In Black Sea After Kerch Strait Incident: Report

IMAGE: theaviationist.com

Simultaneously while FORTE10 was flying, a RC-135 Rivet Joint with callsign JONAS21 departed around 05.00AM on a Black Sea mission. It flew through Bulgarian airspace.

“Although the “Bulgarian route” is a significant diversion from the most direct route to the Black Sea, it presumably serves one main goal: to avoid the Turkish airspace.”

JONAS21 made passes along the track and some intermediate holding patterns, mainly along the western part of Crimea. Its flight lasted 8 hours and its route was the following:

While JONAS21 was on station, over at NAS Sigonella, a USN Boeing P-8A Poseidon departed as “PS266” before 12.00PM. It followed the same route as JONAS21, there are no records of its movements near Crimea, but it remained in the area for about 5 hours before returning to Italy.

Its route was the following:

U.S. Expands Its Intelligence Gathering Missions In Black Sea After Kerch Strait Incident: Report

IMAGE: theaviationist.com

On November 27th, FORTE10, similarly it made its way to western Ukraine, by passing over Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. It spent several hours patrolling above Ukraine, then it was spotted the far eastern part of Ukraine. It made it further east before going westbound, providing the opportunity to closely monitor the northern border or Crimea. Following this, it again made its way to the northern part of the Black Sea to establish surveillance on Crimea. Then it flew the usual track for about 4 hours and returned to the Italian base.

U.S. Expands Its Intelligence Gathering Missions In Black Sea After Kerch Strait Incident: Report

IMAGE: theaviationist.com

The flight was also closely tracked on Twitter:

In the afternoon of November 27th, a US Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon was also once again dispatched to the Black Sea. PS276 left Sigonella, flew towards Bulgaria before entering the area of interest. Its trajectory included a short pattern just south of the Kerch Strait. It moved quite close to the border.

“It was spotted making a continuous right turn to the area to the west of Sevastopol before making a hard left hand turn towards the south-west. During these maneuvers, it just remained in international airspace.”

U.S. Expands Its Intelligence Gathering Missions In Black Sea After Kerch Strait Incident: Report

IMAGE: theaviationist.com

A Twitter post also noted the P-8’s movements off the coast of Crimea.

On the following days there were various aircraft sent to the area to continue the surveillance.

U.S. Expands Its Intelligence Gathering Missions In Black Sea After Kerch Strait Incident: Report

IMAGE: theaviationist.com

On December 3rd, an EP-3E ARIES II was dispatched for the first time to the area, its callsign was TI34. It ran the following route:

U.S. Expands Its Intelligence Gathering Missions In Black Sea After Kerch Strait Incident: Report

IMAGE: theaviationist.com

It is not surprising that there was an increased interest of surveillance over the area. Following the November 25th incident, Russia announced it would deploy an additional S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, next to the current number of three systems already present. The system was deployed on November 29th, to protect Russian airspace. Satellite imagery, provided by ImageSat confirmed the deployment at Dzhankoy Airbase in northern Crimea.

The Russian Airforce, on its part, sent 5 IL-76 cargo aircraft to Crimea.

“In the afternoon of Dec. 5, aircraft RF-76740, RF-76743, RF-76747 RF-76739 initially flew from Taganrog Tsentralny Air Base to Anapa Airport (URKA). The next day, the entire ‘convoy’ headed towards Dzhankoy Airbase in Crimea. RF-76549 was later seen to be also going towards Crimea. Moreover, a RuAF A-50 AWACS aircraft was seen arriving at Novofedorivka (UKFI) in western Crimea, origination from Ivanovo Severny Air Base.”

Two of the IL-76s the RF-76747 and RF-76739 were seen going back to Anapa on December 8th. A large convoy of military equipment from a VDV division of airborne troops was seen on the Crimean Bridge on December 8th. There were suggestions that the aircraft was used to transport an unknown amount of airborne assault troops into the area, together with ground equipment.

Following all of this, on December 6th the US conducted an extraordinary flight under the Open Skies treaty. It was announced by the US State Department. It was aimed at reaffirming the US “commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations.”

“The flight was carried out by Open Skies OC-135B, registration 61-2670. Origination from Offutt AFB, it flew to Ramstein Air Base in Germany where it departed again in the morning of Dec. 5 towards Kiev. Around 09.30 GMT, OSY12F departed in a southern direction towards Crimea. At 10:20 hrs Zulu, it was captured via MLAT flying just north of Crimea flying towards the east.”

As a result of continuing tensions between the US, Ukraine and NATO on one side and Russia on the other, it would be expected that these surveillance efforts would continue, if not even increase in the future.

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  • Sinbad2

    Spying is Americas favourite pastime,they spy on everything, they are the epitome of the police state in 1984.

    • You can call me Al

      Agreed, but they are shyte at everything else.

      • Sinbad2

        That’s a bit unfair, they are also very good at torture.

        • You can call me Al

          Sorry, my bad.

          (how young, did I come across there ? – pretty cool hey ?).

      • John Whitehot

        he didn’t say they are good at it, he said they exercise it on large scale.

        The US way of thinking that “bigger is better”, that so much strides with the pentagon lythanies that “quality is better than quantity”.

        all in all, my slogan for them is “You don’t have a clue”.

        • You can call me Al

          No offence John, but are you on the right part of the thread ?.

    • Jens Holm

      Well, most of Your kind knows nothimg because You dont look around and learn.

      • John Whitehot

        most of yours instead learns from liars.

        of course, you are going to deny it.

  • Dicksonrp

    I don’t understand Mr Putin!!! Why does he allow the free unfettered spying by the coward USA….United Snakes of aipac in the black sea?? Even though it is international airspace, EVERY SINGLE TIME….send aircraft or drones to shadow VERY CLOSELY, each flight of the zio terrorist control US and keep jamming their systems and disrupting their critical flight systems….so they fall into the sea or ‘accidentally’ drift into Russian airspace….then taken down!!!

    • John Whitehot

      “I don’t understand Mr Putin”

      Don’t bother straining your brain.

      “keep jamming their systems and disrupting their critical flight systems”

      why even waste the electric power when these “flights” are no more than showoffs to keep brainwashing retards and make it appear to porkoshenko he’s got support from the west.

      • Dicksonrp

        John…u might have a point there…cheers…

      • FlorianGeyer

        Yes, jamming systems when the Yanks are playacting is what the US wants, in order to analyse the Russian data.

    • AM Hants

      You never thought of how much intelligence Russia gets back, plus, having fun, manipulating the data the US believes to be correct?

      • Dicksonrp

        I hope so Hants…possible. Seasons greetings to u and your family.

        • AM Hants

          Hopefully, they will get a lot back. Do believe their defence technology is far superior to anything Nato has, including surveillance.

          Season’s greeting back to you and your family. Take care.

    • Jens Holm

      If You dont understand this, You should try to understand something else.

      • Dicksonrp

        U should try to understand why all the countries in the world have run u zio terrorist jhous out…is it because u r parasites?

        • Jens Holm

          Zionist dont run us.

          You only can blame Yourself if some few million jews can run 1000 million muslims.

  • Ricky Miller

    There is little Russia can do to stop this as the flights remain in International airspace. Russia could fire on any aircraft coming too close and argue later about exact location but…Nord Stream 2! I think though that Russia could make a public relations case that these flights, although remaining in International airspace, are harrassing in nature and then set practical military limits to flights in any one area near their borders. I mean Israeli flights over Lebanon are not legal but Israel conducts them under cover of self defense. Russia could alter the rules too starting with shooting down any drone flying close to Russian territory in the same area where another NATO aircraft is already operating. No one gets killed but Russia sets an initial practical limit that it can expand later, in degrees, to cover things like racetrack loitering.

    But on the flip side the American behavior is laughable. For a Ukraine hoping for help, watching American planes circle and fly outside Crimean and Russian airspace, day after day, circling and watching and doing little else must be something like watching impotence in action. These planes never enter Russian airspace, even Crimean Russian airspace and never do anything to challenge the status quo. Impotent, and on a mounting fuel bill.

    • You can call me Al

      P-8A Poseidon Maritime Surveillance Aircraft

      MAXIMUM FUEL CAPACITY : 34,096 kg

      MAXIMUM ZERO FUEL WEIGHT : 62,732 kg

      …. and we wonder, why the Earth is dying !!!.

      • John Whitehot

        don’t forget the price tag on the toilet cover, around 12000 $.

        • Jens Holm

          Its like the rest in Russia. The soldiers in the airplanes probatly have holes in the floors as facilities.

          In their smoking hager its same thing. The eating facilities are very small, som the marines often only eat twice a day and can use slimmer hatches :) The idea is taken from the T34.

          • John Whitehot

            i don’t quite understand but wait – ah i get it, this was meant to be a joke.

          • Jens Holm

            Yes

    • FlorianGeyer

      Russia and America differ in many ways and one of them is that Russia will not waste time and effort prancing around like a bitch on heat.

  • John Whitehot

    long gone are the days when intel gathering was done discreetly.

    now you can follow the planes in realtime over the web as they use common transponder codes.

    the Russians must be terrified.

  • AM Hants

    Wonder if Russia interferes with her surveillance, distorting what is found or just jamming the electrics, when necessary. No doubt, Russia gets plenty of intelligence back, with the US being too thick to realise.

    USS Donald Cook meets Bastion, so comes to mind.

  • Jens Holm

    Its very simple. The Russian expansion make counter expansion.

    • John Whitehot

      “Its very simple.”

      nah. simpleton.

      • Jens Holm

        I think it is seen from above. Of course making an improved situation is much more difficult.

        We dont want any more russian expansion in Europe as well as other places.Thats it. We are the many small and not so small countries in Europe.We have our own internal problems as well.

        So we do protect the regained new ones incl. Ukraine.

        We cant do everything with and for them, but we give them space and a russian buzz off -solve Your own problems, which they are not very good at, as well trying to give the ancient systems in eastern systen as chance.

        Some might forget, that those has suffered by others too like Zars, Poland plus/minus germany. Only the Austria/Hungary conglomerate was not so bad for them. They at least tryed to include the mix in a kind of same way as the ottomans did.

      • Dicksonrp

        Hi John. Jens is a zio terrorist jew hasbara squatting in tel Aviv but talking about “we” as if they a see party of Europe. Ignore her or send her some toilet paper for the Christmas.

  • Sinbad2

    Anybody old enough to remember Gary Powers?

    • John Whitehot

      the best part was Krushev withelding the info that the pilot had been captured, prompting Eisenhower to go public that the plane was a weather research one.

      after a while, the soviets published the capture of the pilot, who admitted being a spy and creating one of the greatest embarassments for an US administration ever (at least until our days)

    • Dicksonrp

      The Americunt who came down in a blaze of American glory?

  • VeeNarian (Yerevan)

    It is really time for those supersonic nuclear bombers to make a visit to Cuba for Christmas and New Year.
    Come on Russia! Don’t you get the message? The West hates you because you are Russia and has always done so.
    Stop the kow-towing of the West!!!