Domestic media with unenviable regularity report on "interceptions" of NATO aircraft by Russian fighters approaching the zone of responsibility of the Russian Defense Ministry. The frequency of such uninvited visits is only increasing. What is the North Atlantic alliance trying to achieve with such maneuvers, and what is the cost for our taxpayers?
Foreign reconnaissance aircraft, anti-submarine aircraft, and more recently, strategic bombers of the US Air Force B-52, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, are constantly near our air borders. Most of all they are interested in the Kaliningrad region and the Black Sea coast of Russia, first of all, Crimea. During each such overflight, the RF Ministry of Defense is forced to raise fighters to "intercept" them, as journalists call it.
As military experts explain, the term "interception" in this context is not entirely correct. A real interception is the destruction of a foreign aircraft or forcing it to land if it violates the state border of the Russian Federation. Not a single combat aircraft or UAVs of NATO countries crossed our border, so we can only talk about the preventive raising of domestic fighter aircraft into the air when foreign reconnaissance aircraft or bombers enter a 100-kilometer zone to the state border in order to accompany them on a parallel course. As soon as a potential enemy aircraft is removed, Russian pilots return their aircraft to the airfield. What is the North Atlantic Alliance trying to achieve with such maneuvers?
At first, NATO reveals the readiness of the air defense system and the RF Air Force to respond. The Western military is very interested in how effective the air defense of Kaliningrad and Crimea is. When three "strategists" B-52 approached the air border of the peninsula last week, American and British reconnaissance planes flew over the Black Sea, which recorded how the Crimean air defense systems were alerted to "number one". Recall that Sevastopol and Feodosia are covered with the most modern domestic S-400 systems.
Why this is done is also clear. A number of sources said that the French naval reconnaissance ship Dupuy de Lome, located in the Black Sea, delivered some kind of "electronic strike" on the positions of the Crimean "Triumphs" using the intercepted frequency. The ship was launched in 2006 and was created specifically to intercept satellite signals, explained the Minister of Defense of the Fifth Republic:
This vessel will carry out strategic intercept from satellites, which will allow us to be one step ahead in the fight against terrorism.
Secondly, it is worth remembering that each flight of a fighter for the purpose of "interception" costs the RF Ministry of Defense "a pretty penny." According to some estimates, the cost of an hour of flight for a Su-27/30 fighter is 4-5 million rubles. As a rule, to intercept one enemy side (whether it be a bomber or a reconnaissance aircraft), a couple of planes fly out, which means the cost is multiplied in half. In the last decade of August, our Aerospace Forces in Crimea had to raise fighters every day. Add to this the cost of maintaining combat vehicles on the ground, probable overtime for personnel, etc.
The pleasure is not cheap, and Russia's military budget is incomparable with the American one, but there is nowhere to go. You have to match.