Russia: USAF, Navy Aircraft Intercepted over Black Sea

The Russian Defense Ministry claims it intercepted a USAF RC-135 reconnaissance plane and an MQ-9 Reaper, as well as a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, over the Black Sea on July 14.

According to an English-language Facebook post published by the ministry, which included a 39-second video that appeared to depict a USAF RC-135, Russian fighter aircraft from the nation’s Northern Fleet and its Southern Military District escorted the aircraft until they veered away from the Russian border.

Interception of US AF reconnaissance aircraft RC-135

On July 14, 2020 Russian airspace monitoring means detectedair targets flying towards the state border of the Russian Federation over the Barents and Black Seas.To identify and intercept targets, fighters from the duty air defense forces of the Northern Fleet and the Southern Military District were airlifted. The targets were identified as reconnaissance aircraft Р-3С "Orion" of the Norwegian Air Force (over the Barents Sea) and Р-8А "Poseidon" of the US Navy, RC-135 and unmanned aerial vehicle MQ-9А "Riper" of the US Air Force (over the Black Sea). Russian fighters accompanied reconnaissance aircraft and an unmanned aerial vehicle at a safe distance.After the reconnaissance aircraft of foreign countries headed away from the state border of the Russian Federation, Russian fighters returned to the home airfields.There was no violation of the state border of the Russian Federation.Flights of Russian aircraft were carried out in strict accordance with the international rules for the use of airspace.

Posted by Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation on Tuesday, July 14, 2020

At that point, the ministry wrote, the Russian aircraft headed back to their “home airfields.”

“There was no violation of the state border of the Russian Federation,” the ministry wrote. “Flights of Russian aircraft were carried out in strict accordance with the international rules for the use of airspace.”

The Black Sea meeting marks at least the 10th interaction between U.S. and Russian aircraft in less than two months, as well as the second time Russia intercepted U.S. aircraft near the Black Sea since May 29.

While the North American Aerospace Defense Command typically issues press releases regarding its intercepts of Russian aircraft near the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone, neither U.S. Air Forces in Europe, nor U.S. European Command issued a press release or social media post by press time acknowledging the alleged close calls. 

U.S. Naval Forces Europe stayed similarly mum on its website and social channels.