A B-1B Bomber Just Flew Near Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula After Crossing The Bering Sea

This is likely the first move in what the Air Force has said will be a far less predictable bomber deployment strategy for the region.

Air Force, Navy train in South China Sea
36th Wing Public Affairs—Public Domain

In what appears to be something of a rare move, at least in recent times, a U.S. Air Force B-1B Bomber flew over the frigid Bering Sea off mainland Alaska, toward Russian airspace. Although these types of operations do occur in Europe from time to time, such a move over the Pacific is far less common, especially with a bomber flight emanating from the continental United States. Russia, on the other hand, regularly flies its long-range military aviation assets, including bombers, into the U.S. Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) off Alaska, resulting in the launch of E-3 AWACS, KC-135 tankers, and an intercept by F-22 Raptors, in most cases. 

The flight comes just days after the Air Force ended its Continuous Bomber Presence Mission at Andersen Air Force Base on the island of Guam after 16 years. The move, which The War Zone was first to report on, represents a significant strategic shift in a region that the Pentagon sees as being among the most volatile in the years to come. The flying force now says they will focus on less predictable bomber deployments to a multitude of locations throughout the Pacific Theater. With this in mind, this could be the first one of those missions in the post-Continuous Bomber Presence era. 

The movements were first spotted by our good friend and aircraft tracker extraordinaire @Aircraftspots, who followed the B-1B as it crossed the Bering Sea and headed towards the Kamchatka Peninsula. It is unclear where the bomber may end up, but Japan is one possibility, among others. Originally, the flight included two B-1Bs under the "HYPER" callsign, but one of the jets turned back while still near Alaska. 

Courtest of @Aircraftspots

We will update this post as more information comes available. 

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com