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Flying Fortresses and Nuclear Threat

by Oui Sun Mar 12th, 2023 at 05:47:46 PM EST

Polish fighter jets once again escorted an American B-52 bomber. This is an important part of the interoperability exercise. Together, we care for the security of NATO's eastern flank.

Boeing B52H Stratofortress over Baltic Sea 2019

16:25 Moscow time
Strategic bomber #Boeing B-52H #Stratofortress of the US Air Force 🇺🇸, tail number 61-0009, training exercise of the bombing of the base of the Baltic fleet. #USAF #B52

[Information corrected from 61-0009 to 60-0058]

"USAF B-52 flying over the Baltic Sea turned around after being tracked by Russian Air Defense System," Russian MoD Says

The Russian Ministry of Defence has confirmed that a USAF B-52H was spotted flying over neutral waters in the Baltic Sea, adding that the plane's sudden U-turn maneuver was made after it was picked up by Russian air defenses.

"On March 15, 2019, a US Air Force B-52 aircraft with its transponder switched on performed a flight over international waters of the Baltic Sea parallel to Russia's territorial waters," the ministry said in a statement.

"The plane did not approach Russia's border closer than 150 kilometers, and turned around immediately after Russian air defence systems on combat duty tracked it," the statement added.

In 2017, the last time that a USAF B-52H was reported operating near Russia's borders over the Baltic Sea, a Su-27 fighter was scrambled to intercept and escort it out of the area.

According to a USAF press release, a Bomber Task Force deployment of B-52 Stratofortress aircraft, Airmen and support equipment from the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, have arrived in the U.S. European Command area of operations for a deployment to conduct theater integration and flying training, on Mar. 14.

US Air Force B-52s arrive at RAF Fairford for BTF Europe | AF Mil. on 10 February 2022 |

RAF Fairford, UK (AFNS) -- B52H Stratofortress aircraft, support equipment and personnel from the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota arrived at Royal Air Force Fairford, Feb. 10 to execute the long-planned Bomber Task Force mission, a regularly-scheduled U.S. European Command and U.S. Strategic Command joint mission series.

En route to RAF Fairford, U.S. bomber aircraft integrated with British Typhoon aircraft and Portuguese F-16s currently assigned to NATO's Icelandic Air Policing mission. Bomber aircraft also integrated with British Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) to conduct bilateral close air support training. The mission focused on enhancing readiness and interoperability for the controllers responsible for coordinating airstrikes to support ground forces.

B52 bombers stationed at RAF Fairford will one day carry 'stealth' nukes | 18 Feb. 2023 |

A US defence company has been awarded a contract to develop "electronic interface control" capabilities for the B52 bomber to deploy the in-development "Long Range Stand-Off" (LRSO) nuclear weapon. This confirms that the 70-year-old bomber, frequently stationed at RAF Fairford, will be able to launch the US Air Force's next generation of long-range nuclear missiles, which will be able to evade air defences and strike at targets more than 1500 miles away.

Details about this weapon are closely guarded but it is understood that the next generation of US nuclear deterrent, which has an estimated development cost of more than $12bn, would be launched from far outside a country's territory and be capable of carrying an adjustable nuclear warhead, either a third the size of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, or ten times larger than it. From the B52 would be able to take a short trip just past Southend-on-Sea, and strike Moscow.

USAF B-52H Stratofortress flies @20km near Kaliningrad

Yesterday a B52H was spotted over land in airspace of the Baltic States a distance of 500 mi (800km) from Moscow. Flight path nears Russian border of Kaliningrad at 20 km. Close encounter.

The B-52 Bomber: The Iconic U.S. Instrument of Nuclear Combat and Coercion | NTI - May 2022 |

It should come as no surprise that the U.S. Air Force dispatched four B-52H Stratofortress bombers from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Royal Air Force Base Fairford in the United Kingdom on February 10 as part of a European buildup in anticipation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.1 Of all the weapons in the U.S. inventory, none can deliver greater quantities of explosive ordnance, whether nuclear or conventional, and none has the same capacity to arouse awe and trepidation in the minds of potential targets.

B-52s deployed to Fairford in recent years have been sent over the Black and Baltic seas on simulated air strikes aimed at key Russian ports, air bases, radar stations, and command posts. Given this history, the recent dispatch to Europe of potentially nuclear-armed bombers was surely intended to signal a U.S. intent to inflict severe harm on Russia if it attacked a NATO member state or U.S. forces stationed in Europe--exactly the sort of coercive messaging B-52s have long performed.

The Boeing Stratofortress, known in Air Force circles as the BUFF, for Big Ugly Fat Fucker, flew for the first time 70 years ago on April 15, 1952. Originally developed by U.S. Strategic Air Command (SAC) at the end of World War II to deliver atomic bombs on the Soviet Union, it constituted the principal U.S. instrument for obliterating Soviet cities, bases, and industrial centers in the early years of the Cold War. Later, during the Vietnam War, it was converted into a colossal flying dump truck for raining conventional ordnance on enemy positions in South Vietnam and strategic targets in North Vietnam, thus earning a reputation as a particularly dreaded bearer of death and destruction.

Since Vietnam, the BUFF has retained its original nuclear role, although it has also been used on several occasions, notably in Iraq and Afghanistan, to deliver conventional munitions on the battlefield. Under the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which was renewed in February 2021 for five years, B-52s, along with some B-2 stealth bombers, are covered under the category of allowable U.S. nuclear delivery systems, and 40 out of 46 nuclear-capable H-model BUFFs presently are assigned to this role.2 To ensure the B-52 will continue flying for decades to come, all remaining aircraft are being refitted with new Rolls-Royce jet engines, extending the plane's service life well into the 2050s and making this the longest-serving combat aircraft in the history of aviation.

Exercise Global Shield '82

I had a unique opportunity to experience the BUFF's incredible capacity to inspire awe in July 1982 when I observed a simulated nuclear strike on the Soviet Union as a freelance journalist covering exercise Global Shield '82, SAC's largest nuclear war exercise until that time. According to the preflight briefings I received, Global Shield '82 was intended to test SAC's ability to conduct worldwide nuclear strike operations under simulated "general war" conditions, meaning a full-scale thermonuclear contest between the United States and the Soviet Union. This was a time of heightened tensions with Moscow, coinciding with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and other superpower flare-ups.

The 1983 Nuclear Crisis - Lessons for Deterrence Theory and Practice | by Dmitry Dima Adamsky - 14 July 2012 |

Utilizing newly available sources, this article suggests an alternative interpretation of Soviet and US conduct. It argues that the then US deterrence strategy almost produced Soviet nuclear overreaction by nearly turning a NATO exercise into a prelude to a preventive Soviet attack. Building on historical findings, this article offers insights about a mechanism for deterrence effectiveness evaluation, recommends establishing a structure responsible for this endeavor, and introduces a new theoretical term to the strategic studies lexicon - a 'culminating point of deterrence'.

The 1983 Military Drill That Nearly Sparked Nuclear War With the Soviets | Smithsonian - April 2022 |

Fearful that the Able Archer 83 exercise was a cover for a NATO nuclear strike, the U.S.S.R. readied its own weapons for launch

Early in the next decade, with new leadership on both sides, détente had evaporated. After taking office in 1981, Reagan matched his campaign rhetoric by initiating a doubling of the defense budget. Soviet leader Yuri Andropov, who assumed power the following year, came to the job after heading the KGB, where he initiated Operation RYaN, whose name is an acronym describing a sudden nuclear attack. "The main objective of our intelligence service is not to miss the military preparations of the enemy ... for a nuclear strike," Andropov said in 1981.

Operation RYaN lent itself to confirmation bias, with many routine activities--such as official visits or blood drives--feeding fears of war. And when it came to looking for signs of imminent attack, Able Archer fit the bill.

Nuclear escalation just around the corner #biden #Putin #jinping

Declared a Nuclear Terrorist State

The E-6B Mercury is a US military strategic control and communications aircraft and the US Navy's air command post. It is also called a "doomsday aircraft".
It is designed to communicate with nuclear-powered strategic submarines that carry intercontinental ballistic missiles. These are Ohio-class submarines. Each submarine can carry up to 24 Trident II D5 missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Half a million march to protest the deployment of US Cruise Missiles in Europe as reaction to mobile SS-20 Soviet missiles pointing towards Western Europe.


Russian jet intercepts US drone over Black Sea, forcing it down, 14 Mar KIRBY-Content
A Russian fighter jet intercepted a U.S. Air Force drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday, U.S. officials confirmed, bringing down the U.S. aircraft. President Biden was briefed Tuesday morning on the incident, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters, calling it "unprofessional" and "unsafe."
CNN reported that the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone was flying over ["]international waters["] in the Black Sea flanked by two Russian jets when one of the jets flew in front of the drone and dumped fuel. One of the jets then damaged the propeller of the unmanned drone, forcing it to land in the Black Sea.
"It's not uncommon for Russian intercepts of non-Russian aircraft over the Black Sea," Kirby said. "I want to stress that this MQ-9 was operating in ["]international airspace["] over ["]international waters["] and posed a threat to nobody, and it was an unsafe and unprofessional intercept."
Montreux Convention
...Vessels of war belonging to belligerent Powers shall not make any capture, exercise the right of visit and search, or carry out any hostile act in the Straits....
treaties.un | signatories
US, UK do. not. do. international law, m'k.
by Cat on Tue Mar 14th, 2023 at 07:12:15 PM EST
My coverage in the last few hours ...

U2 Spy Like Incident Above Black Sea

The crash was at least functional to open a channel of communication ...never know that may be useful as the frontlines are immobilized and deaths mount by the hundreds, perhaps thousands.

State Department summons Russian Ambassador 😁

U.S. Summons Russian Ambassador After Military Drone Downed Following Intercept Over Black Sea | RFERL |

See also my post w link to Pentagon briefing by Gen. Pat Ryder

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Mar 14th, 2023 at 08:17:59 PM EST
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Readout of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III's Phone Call With Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu [sic], 15 Mar trash talk
Attributed to Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder:...regarding recent unprofessional, dangerous, and reckless behavior by the Russian air force in international airspace over the Black Sea. Secretary Austin emphasized that the United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows.
vOLdeMRT | Pentagon calls Moscow over drone incident, 15 Mar ubn warned
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reached out to his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shoigu, on Wednesday, for the first time in months, to discuss the incident in which an American spy drone went down in the Black Sea waters off Crimea.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Shoigu told Austin that the incident was caused by the Americans violating the airspace restriction declared by Russia, with all the proper international notifications in place. Shoigu called US drone flights off the Russian coast "provocative in nature" and risked an escalation of tensions in the Black Sea.

archived The Raptor, a single AIM-9X Sidewinder, and a Chinese spy balloon (05.02.23)
Speaking at a Pentagon [Ukraine Defense Contact Group] press briefing [A/V (EN) 00:28:57], Austin confirmed that he made the call, and said it was "important that great powers be models of transparency and communication." However, he insisted the US would "continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows."
On Tuesday, the US European Command [EUCOM] claimed that two Russian Su-27 jets conducted an "an unsafe and unprofessional intercept" of a MQ-9 Reaper drone, which was conducting an intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance (ISR) mission in ["]international["] waters over the Black Sea. According to the US military, one of the planes struck the drone's propeller, causing the operators to ditch the UAV into the water.

The Russian Defense Ministry, however, said that at no point did any of the interceptors make contact with the drone, or use their on-board weapons. The UAV stalled and crashed after executing an abrupt maneuver, Moscow said.

by Cat on Wed Mar 15th, 2023 at 11:54:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sputnik | USAF Reportedly Sent Another Spy Drone to MQ-9 Crash Site Shortly After Incident Over Black Sea, 17 Mar
The US military sent another unmanned aerial vehicle, an MQ-9 Reaper drone - the same model as the one that crashed in the Black Sea on Tuesday - shortly after the incident, US media has reported.
CNN | Officials: US is now weighing the benefits of drone intel against the risks of escalation with Russia
...The US has not stopped the flights entirely while it completes the analysis -- the military sent the same model of drone, an MQ-9 Reaper, on a mission in approximately the same area over the Black Sea shortly after the ["]collision["] occurred, US officials said. That aircraft was meant to survey the crash site and monitor Russians looking for the debris.

But the US military is "taking a close look" at the drones' routes and assessing how to better reduce the risk of conflict with Russia's military, which regularly flies fighter jets in and out of Crimea, the officials said....

The UAV was reportedly dispatched in the hopes of examining the crash site and monitoring Russia's efforts to recover the wreckage, according to cited American officials.
CNN | US believes Russia has recovered some small pieces of debris from downed drone, US official says
...CNN reported on Wednesday that Russia had reached the location where the US surveillance drone went down in the Black Sea, approximately 70-80 miles southwest of Crimea. But the Biden administration downplayed the significance of the drone wreckage or the potential to glean any sensitive intelligence from the remains of the aircraft.

"We made it impossible for them to be able to glean anything of intelligence value off the remnants of that drone, whatever remnants there might be on the surface of the water," John KIRBY, the National Security Council strategic communications coordinator, told CNN on Wednesday. ...

Furthermore, the US is mulling another drone flight over the Black Sea in the coming days, the officials added, echoing earlier statements made by the US State Department, which declared that its drone missions in international airspace would continue.
aljazeera | US says drone recovery difficult as Russian ships at crash site, 16 Mar
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said remains of the uncrewed MQ-9 Reaper drone, which the US claims was brought down by one of two [?] Russian Su-27 jets clipping the drone's propeller [?], sank in waters as deep as 1,219 to 1,524 meters (4,000 to 5,000 feet).

"It probably sank to some significant depths, so any recovery operation from a technical standpoint would be very difficult," Milley told reporters on Wednesday [15.03.23]. Milley added it would take several days before the US would know for certain the size of the debris field....ABC News senior Pentagon reporter Luis Martinez tweeted that two US officials had confirmed the presence of Russian ships at the location of the crash in the Black Sea.

easternherald | CNN: US Sends Another Drone To MQ-9 Reaper Crash Site In Black Sea - Reuters
According to them, the US military does not intend to completely stop flying its drones in the Black Sea region until it completes this analysis.
Recall that on March 14, an American drone took off from an air base in Romania and, transponders turned off, headed for the border with Russia. The Russian Aerospace Forces discovered the object, Su-27 fighters were lifted into the air, they flew, made sure it was a drone, turned around and "blew" it with a draft. The drone flew out of control, lost altitude and collided with the surface of the water.
by Cat on Fri Mar 17th, 2023 at 12:49:19 PM EST
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'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Thu Mar 16th, 2023 at 02:24:41 PM EST
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'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Thu Mar 16th, 2023 at 08:22:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Upkeep of the garden at high cost elsewhere ...

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Wed Mar 15th, 2023 at 02:14:28 PM EST
middleeye | Qatar ranks as top arms importer despite surge in weapons going to Ukraine
"Even as arms ["]transfers["] have declined globally, those to Europe have risen sharply due to the tensions between Russia and most other European states," said Pieter D Wezeman, senior researcher with the SIPRI arms transfers programme, according to a SIPRI press statement.
Arms from the US and European countries poured into Ukraine, following Russia's February 2022 invasion of the country. The US alone has provided Ukraine with approximately $27.5 bn in military assistance since the beginning of the Biden administration. Kyiv was the third largest importer of arms globally in 2022.

Qatar, a gas-rich country of just three million people, holds the top spot as the world's biggest arms importer as of last year. Shipments of weapons to the country increased by 311 percent between 2013-17 and 201822.
Other Middle Eastern states have not been left out. Saudi Arabia was the world's second largest arms importer in 2018-22, receiving 9.6 percent of all global arms imports. Egypt, which is facing a debilitating economic crisis that has prevented the import of basic goods, ranked sixth globally for arms imports during that same period.
SIPRI also noted a drop in Russia's arms exports, with decreases to eight of its 10 biggest recipients between 2013--17 and 201822. Russia's arms exports fell by 31 percent in the same period and its share of global arms exports decreased from 22 percent to 16 percent.
SIPRI, however, noted that France was perhaps the biggest winner from Russia's declining sales, with exports increasing by 44 percent between 2013 [and 2022], mostly to states in Asia and the Middle East.

France scoops up market share

usnews AP | Report: Ukraine World's 3rd Biggest Arms Importer in 2022
Russia's invasion of Ukraine that has led to a substantial flow of military aid to Kyiv from the United States and Europe made Ukraine the world's third largest importer of arms in 2022, a Swedish [Stockholm International Peace Research Institute] said Monday.
Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms ["]Transfers["] Program noted that even as arms transfers declined globally last year, "those to Europe have risen sharply due to the tensions between Russia and most other European states." He said that following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, European states want to import more arms "faster"
from where?
by Cat on Wed Mar 15th, 2023 at 10:18:25 PM EST
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