The Russian Air Force is the successor to the erstwhile Red Air Force of the Soviet Union. They use the TU-160 ( code name Black Jack by NATO) as part of their offensive weaponry. This is a supersonic bomber and was developed during the days when Communism ruled Russia. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, further development of the bomber was stopped, but the rise of Putin changed all that. The bomber was taken out of mothballs and refurbished and upgraded and put back into service.

The plane is a lethal weapon platform capable of carrying nuclear weapons and cruise missiles.

The Aviationist has reported that two Russian Black Jack bombers flew from a base in NW Russia across the North Sea January 15 and were intercepted by Belgium Air Force F-16. The planes were photographed and a video was released by the Belgium Air Force January 17.

The TU-160 was developed during the height of the Cold War and its main purpose was to strike at North America. It is a supersonic bomber and force multiplier. The plane came close to Belgium airspace and two F-16 fighters were scrambled, which also photographed the plane. Later the bombers flew towards the UK and k led to activation of RAF interceptor aircraft. The Belgium Air Force has released the photos and the video of the intercept on 17 January.

The intercept

The planes were intercepted at1150h and were flying at a height of 27000 ft at of 310 knots. The bombers came perilously close to Belgium airspace and showed that this small nation is extremely vulnerable.


During World War II, Belgium declared its neutrality, but Adolf Hitler disregarded it. The Wehrmacht attacked France through Belgium and the Low Countries and France capitulated within 40 days.

After the end of WW II, Belgium decided to join NATO for security.

BBC has reported that the Russian bombers also flew close to the coast of England and the RAF scrambled fighters to shadow the planes. NATO without the USA is not much of a deterrent and small countries like Belgium will always live with a sword hanging over them.

Vladimir Putin is hell-bent on restoring the global reach of Russia like the USSR and in that quest, small countries like Belgium have to be wary.


The Russian Air Force is now flying missions like it did during the cold war, but their frequency is not that high. Nobody should, however, underestimate Russian military might as was demonstrated during the Syrian campaign where they used the Black Jack bombers with telling effect to support their ally, Assad.