United States and Russia; ‘Sabre-rattling by the Superpowers’
The sending of six B-52s with callsign "NATO" was actually the answer to the finale of the Russian Naval exercise Ocean Shield.
28 August 2020 will be a day to remember. While United States North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) scrambled Lockheed Martin F-22A fighters to intercept three groups of two Russian Tupolev Tu-142 Russian maritime reconnaissance and patrol aircraft flying towards the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), preparations were made for overflights and joint formation flights of six USAF Boeing B-52H Stratofortress bombers over all NATO countries.
The all NATO single-day mission titled "Allied Sky" included six B-52Hs, all from Minot AFB (ND), albeit four of them were already deployed as Bomber Task Force (BTF) to RAF Fairford (UK). The Stratofortress strategic bombers flew over all thirty NATO nations in Europe and North America. Almost simultaneously, Russian Naval aviation, as part of the finale for the "Ocean Shield 2020" exercise, conducted multiple missions.
Scramble Magazine has now learned that eight Naval Tu-142 anti-submarine aircraft made regular flights to the distant sea zone over the waters of the Pacific Ocean, the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Norwegian Sea, the Chukchi Sea, the Beaufort Sea along the Northern Sea Route and over neutral waters over or near Russia. Also, four Ilyushin Il-38 anti-submarine aircraft, two Sukhoi Su-24M bombers, two Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-95MS strategic bombers and one Russian Air Force Ilyushin Il-78 tanker took part in the "Ocean Shield 2020" flights.
As for the "Allied Sky" mission. Multiple NATO jet fighters flew alongside the B-52Hs for a photo opportunity. One minor incident occurred during the mission. It was stated that two Russian Su-27 Flanker pilots intercepted a B-52 bomber that was conducting routine operations over international waters at the Black Sea. The Russian pilots flew in an unsafe and unprofessional manner while crossing within 100 feet of the nose of the B-52 multiple times at co-altitude and while in afterburner causing turbulence and restricting the B-52's ability to manoeuvre.
Photos: USAF, participating NATO countries and Russian MoD