Jun 30, 2014
USAF Interceptions of Russian Aircraft Rise as Russia Boosts Air Power
US and NATO aircraft have been intercepting Tu-95 Bear, Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-22 Backfire strategic bombers and numerous fighter aircraft since 2007 when the Russian Air Force resumed long-range aviation missions, which had stopped at the end of the Cold War.
The intercepts typically take place near Alaska and down the western coast of Canada and the continental US. In Europe, they typically occur over the Baltic and North seas.
Since the middle of the past decade, the Russia Air Force has been modernizing its bomber aircraft and long-range missiles.
There have been upgrades to cruise missiles, including a conventional version of the nuclear Kh-55. Another project long talked about is upgrading the Kh-22 anti-ship missile. Within the last year, photos of a Russian test aircraft carrying bright red missiles with a new panel under the nose are believed to be an upgraded Kh-22.
Russia also has aspirations of fielding a new bomber aircraft toward the middle the 2020s.