U.S. Jets Intercept Russian Bombers Near Alaska

June 12, 2014, 6:46 a.m.

On Monday, U.S. mil­it­ary jets in­ter­cep­ted four Rus­si­an heavy bombers that flew close to Alaska, a key com­batant com­mand has ac­know­ledged.

U.S. North Amer­ic­an Aerospace De­fense Com­mand spokes­man Navy Capt. Jeff Dav­is told the Wash­ing­ton Free Beacon that U.S. radar de­tec­ted four Tu-95 Bear H bombers around 4:30 p.m. loc­al time on Monday, when the nuc­le­ar-cap­able air­craft flew near the west­ern Aleu­t­ian Is­lands. Two U.S. F-22 fight­er planes were launched to in­ter­cept the Rus­si­an bombers.

The Rus­si­an air­craft — thought to be con­duct­ing bomb­ing drills — traveled east­ward, then two of the Tu-95 air­craft re­versed course and flew to­wards Rus­sia’s far east­ern ter­rit­ory. The oth­er two bombers traveled south­east and, at ap­prox­im­ately 9:30 p.m. loc­al time, entered the U.S. north­ern air de­fense zone, fly­ing as close as roughly 50 miles off the North­ern Cali­for­nia coast. Two U.S. F-15 fight­er planes were then scrambled in re­sponse to in­ter­cept them.

“The last time we saw any­thing sim­il­ar was two years ago on the Fourth of Ju­ly,” Dav­is told the Beacon on Wed­nes­day.

The stra­tegic Tu-95 bomber can be equipped with nuc­le­ar-tipped cruise mis­siles and can fly as far as 9,400 miles.

Dav­is said the Rus­si­an bombers seemed to be car­ry­ing out a train­ing ex­er­cise: “They typ­ic­ally do long-range avi­ation train­ing in the sum­mer and it is not un­usu­al for them to be more act­ive dur­ing this time,” the Navy cap­tain said. “They did not enter ter­rit­ori­al air­space.”

Still, the ap­par­ent bomb­ing prac­tice run comes amid a peri­od of heightened East-West ten­sions over Rus­sia’s in­cur­sion in­to Ukraine. The United States in the last week tem­por­ar­ily de­ployed five long-range nuc­le­ar-cap­able bombers to Europe to con­duct air man­euvers with NATO al­lies.

U.S. Rep­res­ent­at­ive Mike Con­away (R-Texas) said Rus­sia was de­lib­er­ately try­ing to raise ten­sions.

“Putin is do­ing this spe­cific­ally to try to taunt the U.S. and ex­er­cise … some sort of saber-rat­tling, muscle-flex­ing kind of non­sense,” the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee mem­ber told the Beacon. “Truth of the mat­ter is we would have squashed either one of those [bombers] like baby seals.”

Mean­while, the chair­man of the Armed Ser­vices Stra­tegic Forces Sub­com­mit­tee, Rep­res­ent­at­ive Mike Ro­gers (R-Ala.), on Wed­nes­day as­ser­ted that Mo­scow was in “ma­ter­i­al breach” of the bi­lat­er­al In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nuc­le­ar Forces Treaty, the Wash­ing­ton Times re­por­ted.

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