US Air Force (USAF) B-52H bombers and UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft have flown over Ukrainian territory for the first time as part of an enhanced programme of deterrence flights in Eastern Europe.
A USAF B-52 escorted by a Ukrainian Air Force MiG-29 over Ukraine on 4 September. (Ukranian MoD)
The formation of three B-52Hs flew to the far eastern edge of Ukraine and conducted a race track patrol along the coast of the Sea of Azov for several hours on 4 September before returning to their forward operating base at RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom, according to open-source tracking of their transponders.
They were joined for part of the mission by a pair of RAF Typhoons flying from RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus and two Ukrainian Air Force MiG-29 and two Su-27 fighters. Open-source tracking also detected a RAF Airbus Voyager tanker aircraft supporting the mission by refuelling the Typhoons over the Black Sea as they headed towards Odesa. The Pentagon released a video on 4 September of the mission showing a NATO E-3A airborne warning and control system (AWACS) flying in formation with the US bombers before they were joined by the Ukrainian fighters.
Throughout the mission, RAF Sentinel R1 and RC-135 Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft were tracked patrolling off the coast of Crimea, along with a USAF RC-135, according to transponder data.
In response to the aerial foray, the Russian state news agency TASS reported on 4 September that the Southern Military District scrambled four Su-27 and four Su-30 fighter jets to intercept the US bombers. No incidents were reported by either the US or Russian governments.