British surveillance aircraft were operating over the Black Sea near Crimea at the same time two B-52 bombers approached the disputed territory before turning back.

A Royal Air Force RC-135 and Sentinel were observed operating over the Black Sea.

The Open Source Intelligence Twitter account Intel Air & Sea followed the event earlier, if you don’t follow them then I’d suggest you go do that now.

This isn’t new, B-52 bombers performed a similar ‘mock run’ last year.

This happened not long after a B-52 bomber was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 fighter in international airspace over the Black sea in what NATO described as an ‘unsafe’ manner.

This happened as the the bombers were deployed to “fly over all 30 NATO members in one day”.

A United States Air Force B-52 bomber taking off from Fairford, to participate in training activity “Allied Sky”. Photo courtesy of United States Air Force.
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Yes, let’s aggravate the Russians. After all, we have nothing better to spend our debts on. How utterly childish.


Show of force or whatever it was aside, I find it funny how when it’s the other way around, the RAF operate safely, professionally and attempt communication when russian bombers head towards UK interests.
But when a bomber goes near Russian interests… look how different the display is.
Such different attitudes when it comes to interception.
[email protected]

Daniele Mandelli

Just outlines what I was say on earlier threads. We all do it. It is not just naughty Russia.

All fun and games.

Supportive Bloke

I don’t get your point. The RAF was in international airspace with transponders on. They told the Rusisans they were there (with the transponders) and they are allowed to be there under international law. If that aggravates anyone then they need anger management sessions. How about when a Russian Bear pops over with the transponder off and wanders into UK or NATO airspace……they never happens……… it is as true as saying every gagster uses Novichok bought by mail order from Organophospates-R-Us. I appreciate we are in the era of new truth/facts which are either Trumpian or Putinian……. Crews need to… Read more »


It’s also worth remembering that the only reason the Russians are in Crimea at all is because they illegally annexed it by force from the Ukraine (the territory’s rightful owner). The Russian navy’s lease on the dockyard at Sevastopol was due to expire shortly beforehand.

The bigger question really ought to be why are the Russians there?

Douglas Newell

In fairness to Russia, the Crimea WAS Russian, and Kruschev … a Ukrainian … gifted it to Ukraine when he was in charge of the USSR in the 50’s. Most of the people living there do consider themselves Russian not Ukrainian. The whole Crimean issue is bigger than the simplistic “Russia Bad- Ukraine Good” analysis we tend to get from our Media.

And the Yanks and EU should have known that getting in close to the Russians buffer-zone would have provoked that reaction.

If we start pissing about with Byelorussia it’ll prompt another response from them.


I understand the history but that cannot justify Russia’s actions not least because what they did with Crimea was part of a broader campaign to annex Eastern Ukraine too (Donetsk/Luhansk etc.). Remember they tried to capture Odessa as well at one point – most people there definitely identify as Ukrainian, not Russian. The Crimea operation was still an illegal use of force and a blatant land grab. It also fits the pattern of Putin’s actions elsewhere as well such as in Georgia and Moldova. Were it not for NATO forces now stationed in the Baltics I wouldn’t mind betting that… Read more »

Douglas Newell

One could also argue that the US and the EU were illegally undermining the Ukranian Governments under Yanukovych who kept winning elections and defeating the west’s preferred pro-UK candidates and were in effect orchestrating a coup d’etat. Putin and the Russians see this as them defending Russian people against a German Fascist project (the EU) which admittedly has previous against them. They may also feel that the USSR as a surpanational concern had no right to pass the Crimea to the Ukraine and knew that there was no way in hell that the new Pro-EU Ukrainian regime and their masters… Read more »

Douglas Newell

by pro-UK i meant Pro EU — a typo.

Daniele Mandelli

Agree. One must always try to see things from both sides.
With our track record in Afghanistan and Iraq who are we?


Just for the record I fully agree that Western misadventures in Iraq were totally unjustified and, personally, I think Tony Blair should be charged with war crimes (specifically waging a war of conquest). That being said, Putin’s real issue is that he can’t accept that the USSR is gone and he clearly wants to try and rebuild something like it. He doesn’t like the fact that Russia has lost alot of influence and military prowess since the end of the cold war and I think that keeps him awake at night. Whether he thinks he has some self-appointed divine right… Read more »

Douglas Newell

You are opening an even bigger can of worms. Why is it OK for the The Ukraine, Georgia et al to secede from USSR/Russia, but its wrong for The Donbass to secede from the Ukraine, or Abkhazia or South Ossetia to secede from Georgia. Why is okay for our allies – Ukraine and Georgia – to secede? But not for pro-Russia areas of those countries to secede … as that would affect the territorial integrity of Ukraine or Georgia?? The same is absolutely true in Yugoslavia. Bosnia allowed to secede from Yugoslavia, Serb Krajina not allowed to secede from Bosnia.… Read more »

Meirion X

Because Ukraine and Georgia have had long standing historical grievance being forced to be a part of the USSR.

It was not the case with Donbass. Ethic Russians were forced into Eastern Ukraine(Donbass), by Stalin’s brutal industrial revolution.

The former Yugoslavia was a post WW1 construct of the remains of the Austrian Hungarian Empire.

Meirion X

I will add, Yugoslavia was
some of the remains of the Austrian Hungarian Empire, Not all of it.
These countries too would have had a historical grievance being part of Yugoslavia.

Meirion X

The original inhabitants of Crimea were deported east. And replaced by Russians.
All done by Stalin!

Douglas Newell

Crimea was “Russian” long before that!

And are you suggesting we should start removing current populations from their homes to allow the descendants of the “original” inhabitants back. How far back do we go? How pure does their genetic heritage need to be for us to let them back?

Meirion X

Crimea was only occupied by the Russian Empire in 1750s, it was never ethically Russian.
Just, allow All the descents of the Crimean Tatars whom were deported in 1944 by Stalin, to return to Crimea!

Douglas Newell

Ethnic cleansing then?
After all, if you have all those Crimean Tartars coming back, where are they going to live? What jobs are they going to do?
And what about those whose dads and mums maybe intermarried? Are they allowed to come back, after all they might only be half Tartar or Quarter Tartar?

And of course its not going to happen.

Douglas Newell

Ethnic cleansing then?
After all, if you have all those Crimean Tartars coming back, where are they going to live? What jobs are they going to do?
And what about those whose dads and mums maybe intermarried? Are they allowed to come back, after all they might only be half Tartar or Quarter Tartar?

And of course its not going to happen.


I should think the reason for Russia being there is pretty clear as you say Sevastopol lease was up and in Crimea, there is a number of large shipyards capable of building new Russian carriers.

That coupled with an improved Turkish relationship will mean transit out of the black sea shouldn’t be an issue.


Five nations in addition to Russia have a coast line on the Black Sea, were they being “aggravated” too?


“Childish” is an odd turn of expression. In what way is it childish? If you had said “unnecessary”, “futile” even “aggressive” they would have made more sense. But childish. Do you think the Russian annexation of Crimea was legal Harold? Do you think Russian activities in Ukraine and indeed any other country are legal, reasonable? This is why NATO forces eavesdrop. Why RAF – because they have a unique capability


Your posts are now sad, repetive and weak trolling efforts. You do realise there are many organisations which can help with your ageing loneliness you know. Come on, get some real friends and get back to reality.


Yea. Just let the Russians take whatever they want like they did to the Ukrainians under Obama’s watch. Why not just let the Chicoms too do whatever they want in Asia too. Let our allies fend for themselves. lol

Meirion X

Another one again, of your pathetic rants, becoming more
psychotic by the day!
You need to of speak of youself man!
You are a really sad case of a man!

Daniele Mandelli

That is the Sentinel that is about to be scrapped.

Oh, say the MoD, we have other platforms. Yeah, lets see them deploy like Sentinel can.


We are in the age of information warfare. And those with superior intelligence will win. We should keep Sentinel.

Glass Half Full

Hi Daniele. The UK is probably retiring Sentinel for the same reason the US has not pursued a replacement to JSTARS, namely that both platforms are hopelessly vulnerable in a peer conflict if positioned for effectiveness. The US is moving to a systems-of-systems approach to battlefield surveillance and I presume the UK would be pursuing something similar. Basically networking everything on the ground, in the air, including F-35, and in space, to provide a consolidated picture. Against insurgents both aircraft can operate 40,000 feet above the theater of operations, well above manpad range. Which is probably why the UK retained… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Morning GHF.

I take your points.

Joking, and part serious, but maybe we should keep them for the non peer conflicts then!!! Which is the norm, thank god.

I’m against all cuts. I’m especially against cuts to anything ISTAR.

So in the systems of systems approach what replaces them to provide that capability in a peer conflict in the UK’s inventory? There needs to be something airborne networked to the other systems? Space based sensors?

Glass Half Full

Good day to you too DM. I guess my general view is prioritizing for maximum effect and deterrence against a peer with survivable platforms, so while we might cut assets like Sentinel, heavy armour and the current approach to amphibious capability as examples, we instead invest in assets that would make a difference, especially in the critical early hours of a major conflict in order to hopefully never have to fight one. ISTAR is table stakes. The short answer is that the UK has to build up the system, the US is in a similar position with Joint All-Domain Command… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Fascinating reply GHF. Thank you. I will delve further.


Atleast the rivet joints look to be staying for a while longer.

Mark F

Just like the good old cold war days I miss it. Yes I was in the military in the 80s, 90, to 2007. The 80s was the better decade we all had a job to do and everyone new were they stood on both sides.


Putin’s got his panties in a twist now. lol

Jason Holmes

I can’t see the Sentinel making it past the next defence review, they have been trying to get rid of it for years and with no upgrade programme in place. I bet the two tranche 1 Typhoon sqn’s go too. I would also be surprised if the Army Watchkeeper survives, at least in Army service.


The decision to scrap Sentinel has already been made and the fleet disposal plans have kicked in with the 5th aircraft not returning and the remaining 4 drawing down from November this year.


The UK government is well stupid. The Sentinel R1 was operational in 2004, its first combat use was in 2008, by 2010 it was decided that they were no longer needed after Afgan ops finished. So almost £1 billion spent for five aircraft that after 6 years of work was made surplus to requirements. I do not know if the electronic suite is still up to scratch, but I would think that the electronics is still good enough for coast guard, fishery protection or anti drug patrols in the Caribbean. From my understanding some upgrades were carried out in 2015… Read more »


Trials where carried out to fit a maritime sensor to pick up the equivalent of maritime IFF however this didn’t go much further than that. The main issues around sentinel lies with the required green aircraft upgrades to keep them legal in controlled airspace and the mission suite obsolescence both of which are significant cost projects which would mean an effective capability gap for at least 3 years, stand aside the IFF mode 5 issue and minimum theater entry standards which are now in force. The MODs lack of investment and poor decision making historically around sentinel and the current… Read more »

Steve Martin

I presume this would be to gain Intel on the Russian response and interception?

Kev Allon

What are the RAF doing in the Black Sea, the Crimean War finished in 1856, we got our asses kicked, 21,000 died through illness and battles, didn’t we learn anything?
Why are we antagonising the Russians just to appease warmongering Americans?
In a minute it’s all going to go horribly wrong.