US and UK strategic surveillance aircraft are flying more than one mission a week over the Baltic, Ukraine, and Black Seas as part of an intensified effort to monitor Russian military activity in these sensitive regions.
The flights included two missions by USAF Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) over Ukraine, close to the disputed Donbass region largely controlled by pro-Russian separatist forces.
Details of the missions by US and UK Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint signals intelligence (SIGINT)/electronic intelligence (ELINT) aircraft and the RQ-4s have emerged from analysis over the past three months of open source aircraft transponder data posted online, monitoring of air traffic control radio communications and sighting reports by aviation enthusiast from around airbases used by the surveillance aircraft.
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