A US Air Force (USAF) B-52H strategic bomber that flew over the Baltic Sea on Friday, did not approach Russia’s border closer than 150 kilometres, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported 15 March.
The MoD report said, “On March 15, 2019, a US Air Force B-52 aircraft with the transponder switched on performed a flight over international waters of the Baltic Sea parallel to Russia’s territorial waters. The plane did not approach Russia’s border closer than 150 kilometres and turned around immediately after Russian air defence systems on combat duty tracked it.”
The B-52 bomber flight originated from RAF Fairford in England and is one of six B-52 aircraft that have been forward deployed as part of NATO’s ongoing Operation Atlantic Resolve, which is aimed at deterring future Russian aggression.
PlaneRadar.ru posted flight data of the B-52 on their Twitter account, claiming that the aircraft simulated the bombing of the Russian Baltic Fleet base in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.
Russian news agency TASS reported 15 March that “The Russian military regularly spots NATO member-countries’ aircraft over the Baltic Sea, but the flight of a strategic bomber is a rare occurrence. According to official reports, a B-52 plane was last spotted over the Baltic Sea in 2017.”
TASS also reported 15 March that additional Russian S-400 air defence systems have been deployed and are operational in the Kaliningrad region.
The USAF B-52H is the only B-52 variant still in service and is flown by the 2nd Bomb Wing based at Barksdale Air Force Base (AFB) and the 5th Bomb Wing based at Minot AFB. The B-52H can carry up to 20 conventional or nuclear air-launched cruise missiles (ALCM) that have a range of 370-2,400+ km.