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Two British jets ambush Russian fighters with transponders off

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BULGARIAN MILITARY

According to Russian media, an intriguing incident recently occurred over the Black Sea. Reports indicate that the Royal Air Force [RAF] demonstratively dispatched an RC-135W aircraft to the Sevastopol area, accompanied by two transponder-active Eurofighter Typhoons.

During the mission, these fighters temporarily parted from the AWACS aircraft, which are responsible for long-range radar detection and targeting. At this juncture, two unspecified Russian fighters approached the now-isolated RC-135W.

In a clever maneuver, another pair of Eurofighters, previously shadowing the AWACS aircraft with their transponders turned off, emerged. This numerical superiority forced the Russian fighters to retreat. Western bloggers reportedly lauded the British tactics, describing the episode as “having fun at the expense of the Russian pilots.”

RAF Eurofighter Typhoons display advanced tech in Saudi, potential sale ahead
Photo credit: RAF

Tactical maneuver

Switching off the transponder is a tactical move in military operations to dodge enemy radar detection. This action minimizes the aircraft’s electronic footprint, making it harder for ground and airborne radar systems to detect and track it.

Yet, flying without a transponder in civilian airspace is risky. It raises the risk of mid-air collisions, as other aircraft and air traffic controllers might be unaware of the aircraft’s location. This is why military aircraft usually coordinate with air traffic control when operating in civilian areas, even if they turn off their transponders for tactical purposes.

UK will train Ukrainian pilots, even though it cannot train its own - eurofighter typhoon
Photo credit: Pixabay

In combat situations, turning off the transponder is one part of broader electronic warfare strategies. The Eurofighter Typhoon may also use other countermeasures, such as radar jamming and stealth tactics, to further reduce its visibility and boost its chances of surviving enemy air defenses.

Western operations, Russian response

The U.S. is intensifying strategic drone missions over the Black Sea to oversee and target precision weapons supplied to Ukraine, reports the Russian Defense Ministry.

Su-27 pitted against F-15 is a duel, no American should wish
Photo by Yuri Smityuk

“This highlights the increasing involvement of the U.S. and NATO in the Ukrainian conflict, aligning with the Kyiv regime. These flights significantly enhance the chances of airborne incidents involving Russian Aerospace Forces, heightening the risk of a direct clash between the alliance and Russia. NATO countries will bear the responsibility for such outcomes,” stated the ministry.

In response, Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov directed the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces to develop proposals for swift action against what they termed as U.S. “provocations” involving drone operations over the Black Sea.

The Black Sea remains a strategic

Su-27 blocked USAF RQ-4B Global Hawk approaching the Russian border
Photo credit: Northrop Grumman

The skies over the Black Sea have been quieter lately. The Russian Defense Ministry says there haven’t been any sightings of U.S. drones for months. But on June 23, things changed. RIA Novosti, using data from Flightradar24, reported a U.S. RQ-4B Global Hawk drone flying over the Black Sea during a missile attack on Sevastopol. The Russian Defense Ministry thinks that U.S. experts used information from this drone to guide long-range ATACMS missiles during the attack.

Then, on June 24, Russian Telegram channels like Fighterbomber were full of stories about a U.S. Global Hawk drone being shot down over the Black Sea. Despite the buzz, neither U.S. nor Russian officials have confirmed this, and the Kremlin isn’t commenting.

Back in March 2023, an American MQ-9 Reaper drone crashed into the Black Sea, catching a lot of attention. The U.S. European Command said the drone was on a routine mission when it collided with a Russian aircraft. However, the Russian Defense Ministry denied this, saying there was no contact with their fighter jet and that the drone had violated airspace rules. After the incident, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said the United States would keep flying wherever international law allows. He also stressed that Russian aircraft must fly safely and professionally.

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