MINOT, N.D. — Minot Air Force Base B-52 bombers were intercepted by Russian fighter jets this week during exercises in the European theater region, U.S. Air Force officials said.
Some online media reported the interception this week based on Russian sources.
Minot AFB officials confirmed the U.S. bombers were intercepted, according to Lt. Col. Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokeswoman, in an email on Wednesday, June 19.
"Intercepts are routine and take place on a regular basis. The vast majority are conducted in a safe manner," Gleason said the day before.
She also said on Tuesday the U.S. flights did occur on Monday but post mission briefs were not available yet. "Currently there is no indication these flights were either unsafe or unprofessional," she said. More information was received later.
Several news agencies reported Russia said it sent fighter jets to intercept multiple U.S. Air Force B-52s flying over both the Baltic Sea and Black Sea regions on Monday, June 17. In one of the encounters, the Russian reports claimed one of the bombers was flying directly toward the Crimean Peninsula.
U.S. Air Forces in Europe & Air Forces Africa confirmed a B-52 operating in the European Theater landed at RAF Mildenhall, England, on Monday after it experienced an in-flight emergency. The B-52 was supporting several exercises while in the region.
Capt. Earon Brown, a spokesman for Air Force Global Strike Command at Barksdale AFB, La., said the B-52 declared an emergency as a result of an engine fire warning. He said the aircrew followed the proper procedures and landed the plane at RAF Mildenhall. There, he said, emergency responders extinguished the fire. There were no injuries as a result of the incident, he said.
He said the plane will be at Mildenhall for repairs and then will return to Minot AFB.
Minot AFB's 5th Bomb Wing has the B-52 bombers and is a unit of Air Force Global Strike Command.
B-52 Stratofortress aircraft from the 5th Bomb Wing left Minot AFB to support exercises in Europe, according to a news release on Monday from U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa.
"The bombers will take part in three exercises in the Baltic and Black Sea regions, providing opportunities for training with our allies and partners. Strategic bomber missions enhance the readiness and training necessary to respond to any potential crisis or challenge across the globe," the news release also said.
The news release also said these missions "underscore American commitment to the NATO alliance and continued peace in Europe."