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  • Bear Bombers Over Guam

    Bear Bombers Over Guam

    February 15, 2013
    By Bill Gertz

    Two Russian nuclear-armed bombers circled the western Pacific island of Guam this week in the latest sign of Moscow’s growing strategic assertiveness toward the United States.

    The Russian Tu-95 Bear-H strategic bombers were equipped with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and were followed by U.S. jets as they circumnavigated Guam on Feb. 12 local time—hours before President Barack Obama’s state of the union address.

    Air Force Capt. Kim Bender, a spokeswoman for the Pacific Air Force in Hawaii, confirmed the incident to the Washington Free Beacon and said Air Force F-15 jets based on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, “scrambled and responded to the aircraft.”

    “The Tu-95s were intercepted and left the area in a northbound direction. No further actions occurred,” she said. Bender said no other details would be released “for operational security reasons.”

    The bomber incident was considered highly unusual. Russian strategic bombers are not known to have conducted such operations in the past into the south Pacific from bomber bases in the Russian Far East, which is thousands of miles away and over water.

    John Bolton, former U.N. ambassador and former State Department international security undersecretary, said the Russian bomber flights appear to be part of an increasingly threatening strategic posture in response to Obama administration anti-nuclear policies.

    “Every day brings new evidence that Obama’s ideological obsession with dismantling our nuclear deterrent is dangerous,” Bolton said. “Our national security is in danger of slipping off the national agenda even as the threats grow.”

    Defense officials said the bombers tracked over Guam were likely equipped with six Kh-55 or Kh-55SM cruise missiles that can hit targets up to 1,800 miles away with either a high-explosive warhead or a 200-kiloton nuclear warhead.

    The F-15s that intercepted the bombers were based at Kadena Air Base, Japan, and were deployed to Guam for the ongoing annual Exercise Guahan Shield 2013.

    Two U.S. B-2 strategic bombers were deployed to Guam in late January and last fall advanced F-22 fighter bombers were temporarily stationed on the island. Three nuclear-powered attack submarines and the Global Hawk long-range drone also are based in Guam.

    About 200 Marines currently are training on the island. Earlier news reports stated that Japanese and Australian military jets joined U.S. jets in the Guam exercises.

    Guam is one of the key strategic U.S. military bases under the Obama administration’s new “pivot” to Asia policy. As a result, it is a target of China and North Korea. Both have missiles capable of hitting the island, located about 1,700 miles east of the Philippines in the Mariana island chain.

    This week’s bomber flights are a sign the Russians are targeting the island as well, one defense official said.

    Guam also plays a key role in the Pentagon’s semi-secret strategy called the Air-Sea Battle Concept designed to counter what the Pentagon calls China’s anti-access and area denial weapons—precision guided missiles, submarines, anti-satellite weapons, and other special warfighting capabilities designed to prevent the U.S. military from defending allies or keeping sea lanes open in the region.

    Defense officials disclosed the incident to the Free Beacon and said the Russian bomber flights appeared to be a strategic message from Moscow timed to the president’s state of the union speech.

    “They were sending a message to Washington during the state of the union speech,” one official said.

    The bomber flights also coincided with growing tensions between China and Japan over the Senkaku islands. A Chinese warship recently increased tensions between Beijing and Tokyo by using targeting radar against a Japanese warship.

    The U.S. military has said it would defend Japan in any military confrontation with China over the Senkakus. The bomber flights appear to signal Russian support for China in the dispute.

    Meanwhile, Obama on Wednesday telephoned Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to reiterate U.S. nuclear assurances to its ally following North Korea’s third detonation of an underground nuclear device.

    A White House statement said the president told Abe, who visits Washington next week, that the United States “remains steadfast in its defense commitments to Japan, including the extended deterrence offered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella.”

    “It shows that the Russians, like the Chinese, are not just going to sit idly by and watch the United States ‘pivot’ or ‘rebalance’ its forces toward Asia,” said former State Department security official Mark Groombridge.

    “One could argue the Russians were poking a bit of fun at the Obama Administration, seeing how they flew these long-range bombers close to Guam on the same day as the state of the union address,” he said.

    “But the broader implications are more profound,” said Groombridge, now with the private strategic intelligence firm LIGNET. “The Russians are clearly sending a signal that they consider the Pacific an area of vital national strategic interest and that they still have at least some power projection capabilities to counterbalance against any possible increase in U.S. military assets in the region.”

    Airspace violations by Russian Su-27 jets triggered intercepts by Japanese fighters near Japan’s Hokkaido Island last week. The Feb. 7. incident prompted protests from Tokyo and took place near disputed territory claimed by both countries since the end of World War II.

    The Russian air incursion around Guam was the third threatening strategic bomber incident since June. On July 4th, two Bear H’s operated at the closest point to the United States that a Russian bomber has flown since the Soviet Union routinely conducted such flights.

    The July bomber flights near California followed an earlier incident in June when two Bear H’s ran up against the air defense zone near Alaska as part of large-scale strategic exercises that Moscow said involved simulated attacks on U.S. missile defense bases. The Pentagon operates missile defense bases in Alaska and California.

    Those flights triggered the scrambling of U.S. and Canadian interceptor jets as well.

    The bomber flights near Alaska violated a provision of the 2010 New START arms treaty that requires advance notification of exercises involving strategic nuclear bombers.

    Military spokesmen sought to play down the June and July incidents as non-threatening, apparently reflecting the Obama administration’s conciliatory “reset” policy toward Russia that seeks better relations by tamping down criticism of Moscow, despite growing anti-U.S. sentiments and policies from the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey questioned his Russian counterpart, Gen. Nikolai Makarov, during a meeting at the Pentagon July 12th.

    The latest Russian nuclear saber rattling through bomber flights comes as the Obama administration is planning a new round of strategic arms reduction talks with Russia. State Department arms official Rose Gottemoeller was recently in Moscow for arms discussions.

    The president was expected to announce plans to cut U.S. nuclear forces by an additional one-third in a new round of arms reduction efforts with Moscow.

    However, the president did not announce the plans and said only during his state of the union speech that he plans further arms cuts.

    “Building Guam as a strategic hub has played a critical role in balancing U.S. security interests in responding to and cooperating with China as well as in shaping China’s perceptions and conduct,” wrote Government Accountability Office analyst Shirley A. Kan in a September 2012 report.

    “Since 2000, the U.S. military has been building up forward-deployed forces on the westernmost U.S. territory of Guam to increase U.S. presence, deterrence, and power projection for potential responses to crises and disasters, counterterrorism, and contingencies in support of South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, or elsewhere in Asia.”
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Russia Resumes Nuke Bomber Sorties started by Ryan Ruck View original post
    Comments 73 Comments
    1. MinutemanCO's Avatar
      MinutemanCO -
      Bear's sticking his front paw in the water though, huh?
    1. American Patriot's Avatar
      American Patriot -
      Yeah, the Bear has been moseying around the area though. He's been off the coast here, and I've heard rumors but nothing substantiated, so I won't detail here.

      I have a ruined front end basically, MinuteMan. The bow pulpit was pretty much destroyed. Didn't look bad from a distance, some bent steel, but it was bent, broken, bent bolts, pulled through the wood nuts, and the platform was shattered in several places. The bowsprit took a pretty terrific hit from what witnesses say.

      There are some "cracks" along the boards forming the sprit (it's made of boards laminated together). I'm not concerned about those at this time.

      I'll pull the sprit myself in a year or so, clean it up, re-epoxy it and paint.

      We ought to be getting out of here in a week or two. Monday is the day it's supposed to come together.

      However, new damages were added by the surveyor yesterday for the forestay (the wire holding up the front furling system and the main mast) and that will require repairs as well. I won't be getting out of here for less than 10,000 bucks. Fortunately most of that is on the insurance and not me (I have charges for the mast rewiring, wind equipment, washdown and the fuel and engine work).

      Sorry, not meaning to jack the thread here.
    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -
      VERY heavy Russian activity.

      RAF Lossiemouth Fighter Jets Scrambled Over Russian Planes

      November 20, 2015

      Typhoon fighter jets were scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth to intercept two Russian bombers, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

      The initially unidentified jets were detected flying over the Atlantic in international airspace on Thursday evening.

      The Russian Tu-160 Blackjack bombers were later escorted by the RAF jets.

      The MoD said at the Russian military aircraft never crossed into UK airspace at any stage.

      An RAF spokesperson said: "RAF Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon fighter aircraft were launched overnight from RAF Lossiemouth on a Nato air policing mission after unidentified aircraft were detected flying over the Atlantic in international airspace.

      "The aircraft were identified as Russian Tu-160 Blackjack aircraft which were escorted by the RAF until they were clear of the UK area of interest.

      "At no time did the Russian military aircraft cross into UK sovereign airspace."

      It is the latest of several similar incidents involving Russian military aircraft flying close to UK airspace.

      Last month, RAF Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth were scrambled to intercept two similar aircraft flying over the North Sea.

      And in May, Russian "Bear" strategic bombers were intercepted after being spotted north of Scotland.

      Recommended viewing:

    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -
    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -

      Russian Bombers Again Circle Guam

      Moscow’s latest nuclear saber rattling follows buzzing of USS Reagan

      December 4, 2015
      By Bill Gertz

      Russian bombers circled the U.S. military hub on the Pacific island of Guam last week in the latest case of Moscow’s nuclear saber rattling.

      “On Nov. 25th, two Russian bomber aircraft circumvented Guam, transiting international airspace,” said Army Maj. Dave Eastburn, a Pacific Command spokesman.

      The latest bomber flights around the island were the fourth time in the past three years that Russian bombers circumnavigated Guam.

      Earlier incursions took place on Dec. 13 and Nov. 12, 2014, and Feb. 12, 2013. During the 2013 incident, U.S. F-15 jets were scrambled to intercept the bombers.

      Eastburn declined to specify the exact type of bombers involved in the circumnavigation and sought to play down the incident, noting that the flights “in no way” violated U.S. airspace around the island.

      Other officials said the bombers were Tu-95 Bear H nuclear-capable bombers.

      One defense official said Japanese jet fighters intercepted the bombers during an earlier stage of the Guam overflight.

      Brian McKeon, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, told a House hearing Wednesday that Moscow is building up its military forces and engaging in nuclear saber rattling, including threats to use nuclear weapons.

      “Moscow’s nuclear weapons saber rattling has raised questions about Russia’s commitment to strategic stability,” McKeon said.

      He added that “reckless” statements about using nuclear arms “cause us to wonder whether Russia continues to respect the profound caution that world leaders in the nuclear age have shown with regard to the brandishing of nuclear weapons or nuclear-inspired rhetoric.”

      In response to Russian provocations, the Pentagon is developing new unmanned systems, a new long-range bomber, a new long-range stand-off cruise missile, and a number of innovative technologies, McKeon said in testimony to a joint hearing of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees.

      The pre-Thanksgiving Day flights by the Bear bombers come amid an increasing number of provocative Russian bomber activities in Asia, near U.S. coasts, and over Europe.

      On Oct. 27, two Tu-142 Bear F maritime reconnaissance aircraft, a variant of the Bear H, flew within one mile of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the Sea of Japan.

      During the Reagan incident, four Navy F/A-18 jets were dispatched to escort the Bear bombers that were flying at an altitude of 500 feet.

      The bomber incursions are part of stepped-up Russian attempts at nuclear intimidation of the United States that have included increased bomber flights near U.S. coasts and in at least one case a simulated nuclear cruise missile attack, according to defense officials.

      On July 4, two Bear bombers came within 40 miles of the California coast in what U.S. officials said was an incident timed to the Fourth of July holiday. One of the Russians radioed “happy birthday” to an intercepting U.S. jet during that encounter.

      Tu-95s are known to carry Russia’s new long-range Kh-55SM cruise missiles, which can be armed with either nuclear or conventional warheads and have a range of up to 1,800 miles.

      The command said in a statement no U.S. jets were dispatched to intercept the Russian bombers since the aircraft were flying in international airspace.

      The aircraft were identified by other defense officials as Bear H strategic bombers.

      Russia conducted its operations around Guam in the past with Tu-95 long-range bombers,

      “We do not typically discuss the type of aircraft in these situations, but what we can confirm is that the aircraft were flying safely in international airspace and in accordance with international norms,” the command statement said. “As such, the decision was made not to intercept them.”

      The 36-mile-long island is home to Andersen Air Force Base, that regularly hosts deployments of B-52 bombers and temporary deployments of B-2 stealth bombers and F-22 advanced jet fighters. The Global Hawk long-range drone is also based on Guam.

      The island also hosts a major Navy base where four attack submarines are deployed.

      Guam is located some 3,800 miles west of Hawaii and will become the new home for 5,000 U.S. troops being relocated from Japan over the next seven years.

      It is considered America’s most significant military outpost in Asia and a key element of the Obama administration’s shift of forces toward Asia.

      Russia has announced that it too will be seeking to conduct a pivot to Asia by building up its forces in the Pacific. Russian military forces in the Pacific have declined sharply since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and are being built up under President Vladimir Putin. Analysts say the Russians are also seeking to gain control over the resource-rich Arctic region from bases in the Pacific.

      Russia announced this week that it is building 400 new military facilities on two Russian-controlled islands claimed by Japan, as part of a strategy to build up forces in the region, Japan’s NHK reported.

      Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R., Va.), chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on sea power, said that Putin “seems intent on recreating Cold War-era tension between Washington and Moscow, right down to the same antiquated Bear bomber patrols.”

      “Whether it is fomenting unrest in Eastern Europe, complicating efforts to resolve Syria’s brutal civil war, or supporting rogue regimes around the world, Russia has recently opted to play a destabilizing role in world affairs,” Forbes said. “Futile provocations only serve to deepen Russia’s growing isolation from the rest of the international community with no appreciable gain.”

      Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon strategic arms policymaker at the National Center for Public Policy, said the latest flights suggest that Moscow views the United States and NATO as its main enemies.

      “This has been made even clearer in their recent doctrinal publications concerning their military and naval doctrine,” said Schneider.

      “They also believe that Russian clout is enhanced by direct and indirect nuclear threats,” he said. “Flying nuclear capable bombers into air defense identification zones is one of their standard nuclear threats.”

      According to Schneider, Russia announced years ago that Guam is a key target of bomber flights and several years ago in in the context of a bomber flight around Guam, Russia announced that heavy bombers would now take on the mission of attacking aircraft carriers.

      A B-52 bomber from Guam recently flew over the disputed South China Sea, where China is aggressively claiming 90 percent of the strategic waterway as its maritime territory.

      Eastburn, the Pacom spokesman, said of the bomber flight that “international airspace belongs to everyone and is not the dominion of any single nation.”

      “The United States matches our words and our diplomacy with operations like this one conducted by Russia,” he said. “The rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea, air, space, and cyberspace guaranteed to all nations in international law are essential to prosperity, stability, and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific and we encourage all nations to exercise within the parameters of those laws.”

      Navy and Air Force facilities on Guam will be getting a multimillion dollar upgrade in the coming months.

      Steven Wolborsky, director of plans, program, and readiness at Andersen told Stars and Stripes last month that Guam’s two 11,000-foot runways were rebuilt in the past decade and that the base can handle more than 155 aircraft. Some 19 million pounds of explosives are stored on the base.

      Six B-52s are deployed continuously for six-month periods, while jet fighters are rotated every four months. Five Global Hawks are based at Andersen.
    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -

      What Makes Russia’s New Tu-160M2 Blackjack Supersonic Bomber Special

      August 4, 2016

      Russia’s new Tupolev Tu-160M2 Blackjack supersonic strategic bomber is expected to make its first flight in late 2018 and enter into full-rate production by 2021. The Tu-160M2 is a new upgraded variant of the late Soviet-era Blackjack, which was built in very small numbers before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

      “The first Tu-160M2 is expected to take off by the end of 2018, followed by full-scale production in 2021,” Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev, commander of the Russian Air Force told the state-owned RIA Novosti news outlet.

      The new date reflects a slight shift from previous Russian government statements, which had indicated the new production Blackjack would fly in 2019 with production starting in 2023. Many analysts, expect that the new Blackjack will become the backbone of the Russian strategic bomber force of the future assuming Moscow can find the funding for the project in the current economic climate.

      The Tu-160M2—though it more or less retains the same airframe—is practically a new aircraft under the hood. The new bomber will feature completely new mission systems and possibly be powered by upgraded versions of the existing Kuznetsov NK-32 afterburning turbofan. The Russians plan to buy about fifty of the new Tu-160 variant, however it is not clear if the 16 original model Tu-160 airframes will be upgraded to the new standard.

      Moscow can make do with the upgraded Tu-160M2 for its strategic bomber force because unlike the United States Air Force, the Russian Air Force does not expect the massive aircraft to penetrate into enemy airspace to deliver its payload. Instead, the Tu-160—which is capable of speeds of over Mach 2.0—would dash into position to launch long-range standoff cruise missiles. As such, stealth is not considered to be particularly important. Indeed, one of the advantages of a highly visible strategic bomber is that it enables nuclear signaling.

      But the Tu-160M2 is not likely to replace the long-serving Tupolev Tu-95 Bear—the two bombers will likely operate side-by-side for decades to come. “Both platforms will have to coexist at the same time like the B-52H and B-1B,” said Michael Kofman—a research scientist specializing in Russian military affairs at CNA Corporation. “They are not interchangeable, hence I do not subscribe to the theory that the Tu-160 can replace the Tu-95s in their various modifications.”

      As such—like the B-52—the Tu-95 likely has many years of service left before it is eventually replaced. It will likely remain the primary Russian strategic bomber for at least two more decades. “I see no future in which the Tu-95s are phased out for another 20 years,” Kofman said. “They are clearly being pylon modified for the new Kh-101/102 missile—which tells you they will have that mission for some time to come.”

      For the Russian Air Force, the bomber’s payload of cruise missiles is far more important than the bomber itself. The stealthy new Kh-101—which proved itself over Syria—and its Kh-102 nuclear-tipped variant are both designed to penetrate into heavily defended enemy airspace—allowing the bomber to strike from afar. Both missiles have ranges well in excess of 1800 miles and will comprise the primary armament for the Russian strategic bomber fleet.

      As for the Tupolev PAK-DA stealth bomber—it’s not likely to materialize anytime soon. “Russians like to announce new programs because it’s cheap to make aspirational announcements that may never be realized, especially in fiscally austere conditions,” Kofman had earlier told The National Interest.
    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -

      Details Of Russian Bomber Intercept Over Europe Revealed

      October 5, 2016

      Four European countries were forced to scramble fighter jets after two Russian Blackjack bombers blasted across the continent, it has been revealed.

      The UK, Norway, France and Spain all intercepted the Tu-160 planes as they made a daring flight from Norway to northern Spain and back.

      During the flight, the bombers swooped across the top of Scotland, before skirting the west coast of Ireland, completing their route near northern Spain.

      Spanish media has reported it is the furthest south such an operation has had to take place – while the frequency of Russian bombers being intercepted by NATO aircraft has significantly increased.

      Although the incident occurred on September 22, the full details only emerged following an statement from the French Ministry of Defense.

      According to the statement, the two bombers were first detected by Norway, which scrambled two F-16 jets to accompany them to the north of Scotland – where they were then intercepted by RAF Typhoon aircraft.

      French Rafale fighter planes then picked up the bombers after they skirted Ireland’s west coast, before Spain sent two F-18 jets to intercept the Russian planes north of Bilbao.

      The RAF has confirmed that the Russian jets did not enter UK airspace at any point.

      However, for the UK, the incident was the latest of several involving Russian military aircraft.

      Relations between Russia and West have declined since 2014, when Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea.

      Recently, they worsened even further as the United States ended military co-operation with Russia over Syria.
    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -

      Russian Nuclear-Capable Bombers Fly Near Japan, US Officials Say

      April 12, 2017

      For the first time in nearly three months, Russia flew nuclear-capable “Bear” bombers near Japan, Wednesday, the latest sign of increasing tensions in the region, two US officials tell Fox News.

      The officials said three Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers took off from a base in eastern Russia flying in the Sea of Japan and remained in international airspace.

      One U.S. official described the Russian bomber flight as “clearly meant to send a message.”

      This latest provocation from Russia comes as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits Moscow, Wednesday, the first visit by a cabinet member to Russia since President Trump assumed office.

      Joining the three Russian long-range bombers was a IL-20 spy plane.

      The Russian bombers took off Wednesday from an air base in Ukrainka in eastern Russia, home to one of Russia’s largest fleet of strategic bombers.

      In late January, a pair of Russian bombers circumnavigated Japan for the first time in a year.

      On July 4, 2015, Russian bombers flew 40 miles off the coast of California on the same day President Vladimir Putin called President Obama to wish him a happy Independence Day.
    1. American Patriot's Avatar
      American Patriot -
      Russians are upping the ante...

      Where is China in all this?
    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -

      US Jets Intercept Russian Bombers Off The Coast Of Alaska

      April 18, 2017

      US jets intercepted two Russian bombers off the coast of Alaska on Monday night in the first such encounter since Donald Trump took over the White House.

      The last time Russian bombers flew near the US was on July 4, 2015, when the planes came as close as 40 miles off the shore of Mendocino, California.

      While the planes were flying off the US coast, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, made a point of calling Barack Obama to wish him a happy Independence Day.

      This time, Russia sent the two nuclear-capable bombers to within 100 miles of Kodiak Island, forcing the scrambling of the US planes.

      The US Air Force sent two F-22 stealth fighter jets and an E-3 airborne early warning plane to intercept the Russian bombers.

      The American jets flew alongside the Russian bombers for 12 minutes, Fox News reported, before the Russian bombers reversed course and headed back to their base in eastern Russia.

      The two Russian Tu-95 “Bear” bombers were flying roughly 280 miles southwest of Elmendorf Air Force Base, within the Air Defense Identification Zone of the United States.

      And the provocative move comes amid a time of high tension between the US and Russia, following the gassing of a Syrian town by Russian-backed Bashar al-Assad, and the US in retaliation bombing a Syrian airfield.

      Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, visited Moscow last week, noting that relations were at a “low point” - while sitting next to Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart.

      While Mr Tillerson was in Moscow, three Russian bombers flew near the east coast of America’s ally Japan, forcing the Japanese military to scramble 14 fighter jets at various times to intercept the bombers. A Russian spy plane also flew along Japan’s west coast.

    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -
      Just heard on the radio there is elevated concern from the military over the number of intercepts of Russian aircraft near Alaska recently, supposedly 4 this week.
    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -

      Russian Aircraft Fly Close To Alaska For 4th Time In 4 Days

      April 21, 2017

      American and Canadian fighters jets intercepted two Russian military aircraft that flew north of Alaska and Canada on Thursday night, U.S. Air Force officials said today.

      North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) also confirmed there was another incident on Wednesday night with another pair of Russian aircraft that did not require an intercept, bringing the total number of sightings to four in as many days.

      "Alaskan-based NORAD F-22 Raptors and Royal Canadian CF-18 Hornets intercepted and visually identified two Russian TU-95 bomber aircraft" flying around the north coast of Alaska and Canada, said Mary Ann Clemons a NORAD spokesperson.

      The Russian bombers did not enter American sovereign or Canadian airspace, Clemons said.

      The U.S. military's Air Defense Identification Zone stretches 200 nautical miles from the Alaska coastline into international airspace. Aircraft entering that zone are asked to identify themselves as they transit through. American territorial airspace begins 12 nautical miles from American shores.

      On Wednesday, two Russian IL-38 maritime patrol aircraft flew halfway up the Aleutian Islands chain, according to a U.S. official. Clemons said the Russian aircraft were identified during a maritime patrol close to Alaska. These aircraft were identified by NORAD, but no aircraft were scrambled to do so by visual means.

      On Monday, two F-22 Raptor fighters and an E-3 AWAC reconnaissance aircraft intercepted two TU-95 Russian bombers that had flown into the ADIZ 100 miles south of Kodiak Island.

      On Tuesday, two TU-95 bombers flying up the Aleutian Island chain were tracked by an E-3 AWAC aircraft as they flew 35 miles from the Alaska coast before turning around. A third aircraft, an IL-38 flying a different route briefly entered the ADIZ before turning back.

      Each encounter has received a different response from NORAD.

      "The intercepts are professional ones in accordance with international norms," said Captain Scott Miller, the chief spokesman for NORAD.

      This week's intercepts mark the first times since July 4, 2015 that NORAD aircraft have intercepted Russian military aircraft flying near the American ADIZ. Russian military aircraft have never strayed into American territorial airspace.

      Miller said the activity this week is not unprecedented given that the peak of long range Russian bomber flights into the AZID occurred in 2014.

      A year later that activity dropped off significantly, probably due to a 2015 safety stand down implemented by the Russian military following a slew of deadly crashes involving TU-95 Bear bombers.

      Miller noted that Thursday night's encounters highlighted "the strength of the bi-national relationship of NORAD", a joint American and Canadian command based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

      As the Russian bombers transited through the American ADIZ into the Canadian ADIZ they were accompanied by American and Canadian aircraft belonging to different NORAD regions, a transition Miller characterized as "seamless."
    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -
      Another intercept...

      Russian Bombers, Fighter Jets Fly Near Alaska, Prompting Air Force Escort

      May 4, 2017

      Two Russian Bear bombers -- escorted for the first time by a pair of Su-35 "Flanker" fighter jets -- entered Alaska's Air Defense Zone on Wednesday night, U.S. officials told Fox News.

      The Russian formation was intercepted by a pair of U.S. Air Force F-22 stealth fighter jets that were already flying a patrol about 50 miles southwest of Chariot, Alaska. A NORAD spokesperson told Fox News the intercept began at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday and a defense source said it also occurred into Thursday.

      It was the first time the U.S. Air Force has seen advanced Russian Su-35 fighter jets escort Russian Cold War-era bombers near Alaska.

      The Russian fighter jets were unarmed and remained in international airspace, officials said.

      Late last month, Russian bombers flew near Alaska over four consecutive days for the first time since 2014.

      This week's latest episode comes one day after President Trump spoke over the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House said the conversation focused on crises in the Middle East and North Korea, with no mention of recent Russian provocations.

      The conversation was described in a readout as "a very good one."

      Trump in April said U.S. relations with Russia were at an "all-time low," and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also described the relationship between the countries as being at a "low point."

      National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was not as pessimistic, however, telling "Fox News Sunday" that "I don't think they have gotten either better or worse."

      I could be mistaken but I'm pretty sure this wasn't the first flight with fighter escorts. I could swear I remember posting in this thread about it before...