On October 19, 2023, at around 15:00 CEST, an RAF Boeing RC-135 (reg. ZZ665) Rivet Joint, departed from RAF Weddington, escorted by two Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 (reg.ZK354 & ZK327), departed from RAF Akrotiri, flew a SIGINT mission over the Black Sea.
The British aircraft were intercepted by two Russian Su-27 Flankers south off Crimea. A short clip of the close encounter was released by the Russian MOD. The footage shows the moment the lead Su-27 breaks away from and the second Flankers turns to follow the leader.
“On 19 October 2023, Russian airspace control equipment over the Black Sea detected three aerial targets approaching the State border of the Russian Federation.
A pair of Su-27 fighter jets from the alerted air defence units took off to identify aerial targets and prevent violation of the State border of the Russian Federation.” says the Russian MOD. “Russian fighter jet crews identified the aerial targets as RC-135 radio-technical reconnaissance and electronic warfare aircraft and two UK Air Force Typhoon multi-purpose fighter jets.
As Russian fighter jets approached, foreign military aircraft performed a U-turn away from the State border of the Russian Federation. The Russian aircraft returned safely to their home airfield. No violation of the State border of the Russian Federation has been allowed.
The flight of the Russian fighter jets was carried out in strict compliance with international rules on the use of airspace over neutral waters, without crossing air routes or coming dangerously close to aircraft of a foreign State”.
It is important to note that the action took place south of Crimea, a territory occupied by Russia but not part of the Russian Federation (and therefore Russian airspace is far from the area of action).