Russian aircraft cross within 100 feet of B-52 in international waters

U.S. Defense officials said two Russian planes conducted an “unsafe” intercept of a U.S. bomber over international waters Friday.

U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa said the Russian aircraft crossed within 100 feet of the B-52 bomber’s nose several times and hindered its maneuverability, CNN reported.

“Actions like these increase the potential for midair collisions, are unnecessary, and inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, in the statement. “While the Russian aircraft were operating in international airspace, they jeopardized the safety of flight of the aircraft involved. We expect them to operate within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent accidents,” he said.

The incident over the Black Sea occurred the same day that U.S. B-52’s flew over 30 NATO-member countries “to demonstrate NATO solidarity, enhance readiness and provide training opportunities aimed at enhancing interoperability for all participating aircrews from the U.S. and NATO allies,” U.S. European Command said in a statement.

On Thursday night, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said U.S. F-22 fighter jets intercepted six Russian military jets in the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone.

“Our northern approaches have had an increase in foreign military activity as our competitors continue to expand their military presence and probe our defenses,” NORAD commander Gen. Glen VanHerck said in a statement Thursday. “This year, we’ve conducted more than a dozen intercepts, the most in recent years. The importance of our continued efforts to project air defense operations in and through the north has never been more apparent.”

While tensions have been ongoing between the U.S. and Russia, President Trump has also frequently criticized NATO members for falling short of the recommended spending of 2 percent of GDP on defense. Earlier this year, he cited Germany’s failure to do so when directing the Pentagon to slash the number of U.S. troops stationed there.

Tags B-52 Black Sea Donald Trump NATO Russia

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