For the first time, the two bombers were accompanied by Ukrainian Su-27 and MiG-29 fighters. The planes took off from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota on a special mission with a long range and duration to Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region. The planes have flown more than 9,000 km. in one direction.
“The US Strategic Bomber Missions in Europe demonstrate their commitment to our allies and partners, while sending a clear message to deter any potential enemy.“, commented General Jeff Harrigan, commander of the US Air Force in Europe and Africa.
“The integration of our strategic aviation into Europe proves that the United States, together with every partner and ally in the region, is ready to restrain and, if necessary, use its capabilities together,” he added.
The two planes flew over northern Macedonia, congratulating the country on joining the Alliance, accompanied by four Greek F-16 fighters. The flight to Skopje was filmed by Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska, who boasted on Facebook.
Greece has signed a specific agreement with northern Macedonia to protect its airspace. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov announced that Bulgaria could protect the skies over Skopje once the new F-16 fighters arrive, while President Rumen Radev insisted on the current MiG-29, but there is no information on an agreement between Skopje and Sofia.
It has recently become clear that the Investment Cost Project for seven new 3D radars has been completed – five for long-range and two for short-range detection of the Bulgarian Air Force, with which we will be able to engage in airspace surveillance over Northern Macedonia. The radars will be for BGN 400 million and should be available in 2023-2024 for the new F-16s.
After flying over northern Macedonia, the two the bombers were accompanied by Romanian MiG-21s and F-16sas well as the Polish F-16 and MiG-29. For the first time Ukrainian Su-27 also participated in the mission. Refueling in the air was provided by Turkish and American KC-135 tanker planes from the air base in Incirlik, as well as one from the Mildenhall air base in Great Britain.
Subsequently, the two bombers were intercepted by Russian Su-27 and Su-30 aircraft – one in international airspace over the Black Sea and the other over the Baltic.
“Russian planes have approached at a safe distance, identified as B1-B bombers by US strategic aviation, as a result of which American planes have changed the course of their flight to the borders of the Russian Federation,” the military department in Moscow said. .
This is another US strategic bomber flight over Europe. The flights of the Russian strategic aviation are also intensifying. In early and mid-March, two Tu-160 missiles (capable of carrying nuclear weapons) flew over the Barents and Norwegian Seas and the Atlantic Ocean, accompanied in stages by British and Norwegian fighters. Earlier, two Tu-142 anti-submarines of Russia’s Northern Fleet flew the same route with air refueling, reaching almost British airspace. Six British Typhoon fighters accompanied the Russian planes at the time.