According to Russian state news agency TASS, three Sukhoi Su-35S fighters were scrambled to intercept a U.S. Air Force B-52H bomber on Sunday (Sept. 26). The intercept occurred as the bomber “approached Russian airspace over the Pacific,” according to TASS. The fighters “strictly followed” international rules and escorted the bomber away from the sensitive airspace, and according to TASS, “There were no violations of Russia’s state border or dangerous proximity of planes in the air.” The Sukhois returned to base after the B-52 made a U-turn away from the Russian border.
The encounter is not inconsistent with a recurring aeronautical dance that anyone who’s seen the movie Top Gun understands (without the Hollywood drama). According to a UPI report, “In March, NATO scrambled fighter jets 10 times to track and intercept an unusually ‘rare peak’ of Russian bombers and fighters flying over the North Sea, Black Sea and Baltic Sea, a NATO official said at the time.”
UPI added that, in August 2020, a pair of Russian combat aircraft performed an “unsafe, unprofessional” interception on a B-52 over international waters in the Baltic Sea. Wake turbulence associated with the encounter reportedly “restricted [the B-52’s] ability to maneuver,” according to the UPI report.