Two Russian Tu-160 bombers, escorted by flankers, intercepted by Italian typhoons, Danish F-16s over the Baltic Sea

Some screenshots from the Russian MOD video show the Tu-160, the Su-35S and an Italian Eurofighter Typhoon. In the lower left field a screenshot from

Two Tu-160s have flown over the Baltic States. NATO, Finnish and Swedish fighters shadowed the Russian blackjacks escorted by Su-35s.

Two Tu-160 Blackjacks from the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out an 8-hour mission that brought the bombers out of the Baltic states on September 21, 2021. According to the Russian MOD, the two strategic missile carriers conducted a planned flight in the airspace over the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea.

The missile carrier bombers were escorted by two Su-35S aircraft of the aerospace forces and two Su-27 fighters of the naval aviation of the Baltic Fleet.

Like the last time the Tu-160 passed from Engels-2 Air Base in Saratov, Oblast, in southwest Russia, the Russian Long Range Aviation (LRA) voyage in the Baltic caused several NATO, Finnish and Swedish planes in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert). to support Baltic Air Policing (BAP) with scramble.

The video released by the Russian MOD shows some of the warplanes that were dispatched to identify and shadow the Russian “package” while it was operating in international airspace: you can clearly see an Italian Air Force typhoon currently targeting Baltic Eagle II is based in Amari, where it replaced the F-35As (the Russian MOD press release mentioned the Italian fighters but incorrectly identified them as F-16s) and the F-16s of the Royal Danish Air Force. The Finnish Air Force F-18 and the Swedish Air Force JAS 39 Gripens were also launched and intercepted the Tu-160.

Interestingly, at least one Su-35S showed up on, marking the very first time (to our knowledge) that a Russian flanker could be tracked online.

The Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack is the largest and heaviest fighter aircraft, the fastest operational bomber, and the largest and heaviest variable wing aircraft ever flown. Its maiden flight dates back to 1981 and it entered active service in 1987.

The Tu-160 took part in the aerial warfare in the sky over Syria; At least one Tu-160 aircraft flew an assault mission on November 17, 2015 that hit ISIL targets in Syria with Russian 3M-54 Kalibur cruise missiles fired from a distance. In 2016, the Russian Air Force’s LRA was still operating 16 aircraft. In other words, it’s a rare bird.

The Russians are already working on his replacement. The new Tu-160M2 are not converted, upgraded existing Tu-160s, but new series aircraft from the Tupolev plant. The new Tu-160M2 version includes a glass cockpit, weapon upgrades, new engines and the removal of obsolete equipment that is no longer relevant to the Tu-160’s mission. The maiden flight of the first Tu-160M2 took place on February 2, 2020 and lasted 2 hours and 34 minutes. The second Tu-160M, equipped with new NK-32 Series 02 (NK-32-02) engines, completed its maiden flight a few days ago, on September 17, 2021.

David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the founder and editor of The Aviationist, one of the world’s most popular and widely read blogs for military aviation. Since 1996 he has been writing for major global magazines including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft and many others in the fields of aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the US, Europe, Australia and Syria and flown several fighter jets with various air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, private pilot and graduate in computer science. He has written four books.


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