The Russian defense ministry stated in a press release that it had sent a Su-27 fighter plane on Monday to intercept a U.S. surveillance plane over the “neutral” Black Sea that it said was approaching the Russian border, Reuters reported.
The US plane, identified as a P-8 Poseidon, changed its course away from the Russian border after the interception, the ministry added.
The U.S. and Russia have been playing dry dogfighting games without firing bullets, buzzing aircrafts, and flying over each others’ air space for months. In fact, there were two encounters in mid-April, one of which saw a Russian fighter jet fly what the US Navy described as an “inverted maneuver” 25 feet in front of a P-8A. There was also an encounter in March as well, in which U.S. military intercepted Russian aircraft that got within 50 nautical miles of the Alaskan coast, though the latest interceptions have occurred even closer.
Last month in June, Russia released a video of Russian fighter jets intercepting several U.S. military aircrafts, Navy and Air Force reconnaissance planes, and a tanker aircraft over the Black Sea, Business Insider reported.
Around the same time period, U.S. F-22 stealth fighter aircraft scrambled to intercept four Russian reconnaissance planes off Alaska, according to NORAD, the U.S, and its counter-part Canadian defense organization. Shockingly that was the 10th time this year alone that Russian military aircraft had been intercepted off Alaska, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) stated to Reuters. In fact, this was just days after conducting similar intercepts of Russian bombers in the same region.
The U.S. also recently taunted Russia by sailing through the Barents Sea, for the first time in more than 30 years in May.
This effort seemed to heat up even more after the U.S. walked out of an Open Skies Treaty (OST) with Russia as well the same month, marking the third withdrawal from an international treaty, The Guardian reported. Ironically, Russia is now legally allowed to fly over U.S. bases in Europe but the U.S. is supposed to not legally be allowed to observe Russia. However, as is displayed with this week’s instance of observing Russia with spy planes that’s not the case. Russia flew four times over the border of Alaska in just the month of June, only one month after Trump walked out the treaty.
In total, Stars and Stripes state that there was 12th this year in June worldwide involving U.S. and Russian aircrafts. This recent one in July marks 13 separate incidents between Russia and the U.S.
The OST is the third arms control agreement Trump has left. He took the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, and the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty in 2019.
The primary reason behind these long-range incursions, particularly for heavy payload bombers, is simply put training. In order to be able to execute these long-range bombing missions in the event of real war, Russian and American pilots conduct training flights that closely resemble how actual combat operations would unfold. It’s not just Russia and America either, its every country including NATO countries themselves who conduct drill missions.
It’s worth noting that the United States conducts similar long-range training flights with its own suite of heavy payload bombers, including the non-nuclear B-1B Lancer and the nuclear-capable B-52 Stratofortress. Long duration missions can be dangerous and difficult even without an enemy shooting back at you — so it’s in the best interest of nations with long-range bomber capabilities to regularly conduct long-range flights.
Those war drums are beating loudly do you hear that sound? It’s the sound of conflict and these flyovers make us numb to the news desensitizing us, if something were ever to go live we wouldn’t be the wiser, because no one seems to be paying attention to what’s happening above us in the sky.