Today, two U.K. Eurofighter Typhoons were spotted escorting a Royal Air Force RC-135 RIVET JOINT intelligence collection aircraft over the Black Sea. This significant development comes after unconfirmed reports from Russian Telegram users that Russian fighter jets fired on a U.K. RC-135 about three weeks ago.
According to the now deleted posts, a U.K. RC-135 was fired upon by Russian jets who attempted to intercept the flight on September 29th. The U.K. and Russian Ministry of Defense has not commented on the reported engagement and open source flight data from that day does not indicate Russian fighters were scrambled. However, historical flight data does show that a U.K. RC-135 was airborne over the Black Sea that day. If true this would not be the first time that the Russians have fired on British troops in the Black Sea. In 2021 the HMS Defender was reportedly fired upon by Russian surface combatants, a claim the U.K. Ministry of Defense denies. However, this would be the first time since the invasion of Ukraine that a NATO asset was engaged by Russian forces.
Fighter escorted intelligence flights over the Black Sea is a significant development since the British began collections of Crimea last year. This development also can lead to miscalculations and raise the threat of direct air combat over the Black Sea.