A RUSSIAN fighter jet has intercepted US nuclear bombers just days after an American drone was dramatically brought down.
Footage taken from the Su-35 shows it flying beside one of two massive B-52s as they approached Russian airspace, in the first encounter between the sides since the drone clash.
Before the B-52s were intercepted by Vladimir Putin’s planes, a photo shows them being escorted by Polish F-16 jets over Baltic Sea.
It comes after Russian fighter jets dumped fuel on a US Reaper drone before crashing into above the Black Sea.
In the latest incident, Russia’s defence ministry said its radar detected two targets which were identified as US Air Force B-52H bombers, the state-owned TASS news agency reported.
The ministry said a Su-35 fighter jet took to the air in order to prevent a border violation.
After that “the foreign military aircraft moved away from the Russian Federation state border, the Russian fighter returned to its base airfield.”
The Su-35’s flight was strictly in line with international rules of the use of airspace during Monday’s incident, added the ministry.
“No violation of the state border of the Russian Federation was permitted,” it said.
During last week’s clash a Russian Su-27 jet struck the propeller of the MQ-9 Reaper drone – forcing it to crash into the sea.
The drone was taken down while flying near Russian-occupied Crimea and the Ukraine frontline on Tuesday.
Prior to the collision, which happened at 7am local time, two Su-27s had “dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9” in a “reckless” and “unprofessional” manner, the US military said.
Footage of the moment has now been released by the US European Command.
It shows one of the Russian fighter jets zooming towards the drone before flying above it – dumping fuel on it.
Horrified US military personnel in Germany watched a live feed from the drone as the Russian jets repeatedly flew around it, dumping fuel to damage cameras and sensors.
Senior US officials have been worried for months that some sort of incident over the Black Sea could lead to miscommunication and confrontation.
The Russians said the drone manoeuvred sharply and crashed into water after its fighter jets were scrambled to intercept it near Crimea.
What is the B-52 bomber?
The B-52 Stratofortress is a US Air Force's heavy bomber which has been in use since the mid-1950s.
One of the reasons why the plane – which has a 150ft wingspan – is still in use is its staggering flying range of 9,000 miles.
And then there’s the awe inspiring payload capability.
In fact its enormous size means they can carry more than 30 tonnes of bombs.
The hulking bomber can also be fitted with large numbers of nuclear-able cruise missiles and precision air-to-surface rockets.
B-52s were synonymous with the bombing of North Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1960s and 1970s during the Cold War.
Its destructive capability was also demonstrated in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars where they were used to demolish caves and underground facilities.
The majority of the 76-strong fleet are based at Barksdale in Louisiana and Minot in North Dakota.
Moscow denied its warplanes came into contact with the drone and insisted they didn’t fire their weapons to shoot down the drone, which would have been an act of war.
The area where the incident is believed to be where there is intense NATO military activity close to the frontlines of the Ukraine war.
The Russians reportedly said they have now won the race to retrieve the drone from the 3,000ft under the Black Sea.
The bringing down of an American reaper drone is part of Russia’s increasingly dangerous pattern of behaviour that experts fear could spark a wider conflict.
US researchers the RAND Corporation have compiled a report detailing hundreds of such incidents in recent years which they describe as “coercive signalling”.
This is designed to send a message to the US and other NATO planes and ships through “unsafe and unprofessional” conduct – with Russian aircraft increasingly armed.
Footage shows the moment one of the Russian jets dumping fuel on a US drone[/caption]
One of the jets struck the drone’s propeller – resulting in it crashing into the sea[/caption]