Russian Su-35 Flanker-E fighters intercept US B-52H bombers over Baltic Sea

Russia scrambled two Su-35 fighters of the Western Military District (some sources mention a single Su-35) to intercept two US Air Force B-52H bombers (some sources mention one B-52H) over the Baltic Sea, the Russian National Defense Control Center told on Monday, March 20: “On March 20, 2023, radars of the Western Military District Air Defense force on duty detected two airborne targets over the Baltic Sea, flying towards the state border of the Russian Federation. The targets were identified as two U.S. Air Force B-52H strategic bombers,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

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Russian Su 35 Flanker E fighters intercept US B 52H bombers over Baltic Sea Two U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bombers fly over the Pacific Ocean during a routine training mission on Aug. 1, 2018 (Picture source: USAF/Airman 1st Class Gerald R. Willis)

The Russian Defense Ministry said that the Su-35 Flanker-E jets were scrambled to identify the approaching aircraft and prevent a possible intrusion: “After foreign military planes move away from the state border of the Russian Federation, the Russian planes returned to their home base,” the Ministry said.

The protection of airspace over the Baltic Sea is a matter of concern for many countries in the region, including Russia, which has a large naval and air presence in the area. In recent years, there have been a number of incidents involving Russian military aircraft flying in close proximity to NATO forces operating in the Baltic region, which have raised tensions and concerns about the possibility of accidents or miscalculations.

To protect its airspace over the Baltic Sea, Russia maintains a network of radar stations and air defense systems, including S-400 and S-300 missile systems, which are capable of detecting and engaging targets at long ranges. Additionally, Russian fighter aircraft are frequently scrambled to intercept and escort foreign military aircraft operating in the area, in order to maintain control of the airspace and ensure the safety of Russian forces.

NATO forces also maintain a significant presence in the region, including fighter aircraft deployed to bases in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as airborne early warning and control aircraft and other assets. NATO conducts regular air patrols over the Baltic Sea to monitor and deter potential threats, and has also recently established a multinational air policing mission to provide additional support to the Baltic states.

Overall, the protection of airspace over the Baltic Sea is a complex and sensitive issue, and requires close coordination and communication between all parties involved to avoid misunderstandings and potential conflicts.

Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E

The Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E is a multirole fighter aircraft, a subsidiary of the United Aircraft Corporation. It is an advanced version of the Su-27 Flanker. It is equipped with a powerful radar system, advanced avionics, and a variety of weapons, including air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. It has a maximum speed of Mach 2.25 (1,500 mph) and a combat radius of 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles). The Su-35 has been exported to several countries, including China, Indonesia, and Egypt. It has been used in combat operations in Syria, where it has demonstrated its capabilities in air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.

Boeing B-52H

The Boeing B-52H is a long-range, heavy bomber aircraft, a variant of the B-52 Stratofortress, which first entered service in 1955 and has been in continuous use ever since. The aircraft is powered by eight Pratt & Whitney TF33 turbofan engines, and has a maximum speed of over 650 mph (Mach 0.86). Its combat range is approximately 8,800 miles without aerial refueling, and it can carry a maximum payload of 70,000 pounds (31,75 tonnes), including conventional or nuclear weapons, missiles, and bombs. The B-52H can be operated by a crew of up to six, including the pilot, co-pilot, and several weapons and navigation officers. Despite its age, the B-52H remains a critical component of the USAF's bomber fleet, and is expected to remain in service until at least 2050. Its versatility and long-range capabilities make it a valuable asset for a wide range of missions, including strategic bombing, close air support, and intelligence gathering.