Pictures released by the US Department of Defense on Friday show a face-off this week between a Russian jet and US Air Force planes over the Baltic Sea.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said Russian radars spotted aircraft flying along the border Tuesday and a Su-27 fighter took off to intercept it. It said the Russian pilot identified the plane as a US-B-52 bomber and escorted it at a safe distance until it flew further away from the Russian border.
US Lt. Col. David Faggard, a spokesman for US Forces Europe, said the B-52 was conducting a routine mission in international airspace over the Baltic when it was intercepted by the Russian fighter. Such intercepts happen routinely, Faggard said.
CBS News reported that the jet also intercepted a refueling plane and a pair of B-1B Lancer bombers. It said those planes were engaged in a US military exercise at the time of the encounters.
Pentagon spokesman Cpt. Jeff Davis told CBS the the intercept was considered “safe and professional.”
In a separate incident, a Russian MiG-31 fighter jet was dispatched Tuesday to intercept a Norwegian maritime surveillance aircraft flying over the Barents Sea near the Russian border, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Both Russia and NATO routinely scramble their fighters to intercept each other’s planes flying over international waters.
In September, a Russian fighter jet flew within 10 feet (3 meters) of a US Navy surveillance aircraft, in what American officials called an unsafe intercept over the Black Sea. In another dramatic incident last year, Russian jets buzzed over the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea, coming within 30 feet of the American warship.