Jun 13, 2014
Russian Bombers Fly 50 Miles off California. F-22s and F-15s intercept them
The last time it was saw anything similar was two years ago on the Fourth of July.
The latest Bear H incursions began Monday around 4:30 p.m. Pacific time when radar detected the four turbo-prop powered bombers approaching the U.S. air defense zone near the far western Aleutian Islands.
Two U.S. Air Force F-22 jets were scrambled and intercepted the bombers over the Aleutians.
After tracking the bombers as they flew eastward, two of the four Bears turned around and headed west toward the Russian Far East.
The remaining two nuclear-capable bombers then flew southeast and around 9:30 pm entered the U.S. northern air defense zone off the coast of Northern California.
Two U.S. F-15 jets were deployed and intercepted the bombers as they eventually flew within 50 miles of the coast before turning around and heading west.
The four bombers also were supported by two IL-78 aerial refueling tankers that were used for mid-air refueling during the operation.
The aircraft acted professionally. The bombers appeared to be conducting a training mission.
They typically do long range aviation training in the summer and it is not unusual for them to be more active during this time, and they did not enter territorial airspace.
The bomber incursion is the latest Russian nuclear saber-rattling amid stepped up tensions over Moscow’s military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.
A member of the House Armed Services Committee, called the Russian flights “intentional provocations.”
The Alaska-California bombers flight also came a month after a Russian Su-27 interceptor jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft flying over the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan.
In that incident on April 23, the Su-27 jet flew close to the RC-135, turned to reveal its air-to-air missiles to the crew, and then flew dangerously close to within 100 feet of the cockpit in a maneuver military officials called reckless.
In the past 10 years, 50 Bear H bombers were intercepted near U.S. air defense zone, although he Monday’s flight near California was unusual.
In February 2013, two of the bombers were intercepted as they circled the U.S. Pacific island of Guam, in a rare long-range incursion.
Two Bear Hs also were intercepted near Alaska on April 28, 2013.
A Russian Bear H incursion in Asia took place in in July 2013 when two Tu-95s were intercepted by Japanese and South Korean jets near the Korean peninsula and Japan’s northern Hokkaido Island.
The July 4, 2012 bomber flights near the West Coast were the first time since the Cold War that Russian jets has traveled so close to the U.S. coastline.
That action followed an earlier intrusion by Tu-95s near Alaska that were part of large-scale strategic nuclear exercises by the Russians aimed at practicing strikes on enemy air defenses.
Russia has stepped up provocative nuclear war games in recent years as part of propaganda efforts to display Moscow’s dislike of U.S. missile defenses in Europe.