Everyone wants a peak at a Blackjack or two
A pair of Russian Tupolev Tu-160 (NATO: Blackjack) heavy strategic bomber this week took a cruise around the Baltic Sea. Dubbed the “White Swan” by the Russians, just 14 or so of the big variable-wing aircraft, with their 177-foot wingspan, are in service– all with the 121st Guards Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment in Saratov– making one, much less two of the planes airborne at the same time, a rare sight.
Therefore, the sortie was well-attended by NATO and Baltic state fighters.
From the Russian MOD:
Two Tu-160 strategic missile carriers performed a scheduled flight over the neutral waters of the Baltic sea.
The flight duration was more than 7 hours.
At some stages of the route, long-range aircraft were escorted by F-16 fighters of the Belgian [on a NATO Air Policing Mission out of Lithuainia], Danish and Polish Air Force, F-18 of Finnish Air Force, JAS-39 Gripen of Swedish Air Force. After the flight program, the crews of the Russian Aerospace Forces returned to the airfield.
And of course, state-owned Russian media played it up, shocked at the fact that people come out on the porch whenever you have a parade along their front lawn.