Oct 31, 2015

Russian bombers buzz carrier USS Ronald Reagan amid exercise

The carrier Ronald Reagan scrambled four armed F/A-18 Hornets Tuesday to intercept two incoming Russian bombers in a startling low altitude pass by 7th Fleet's aircraft carrier.
The TU-142 Bear bombers barreled by at an altitude of 500 feet and within a mile of the flattop, then participating in exercises with the Republic of Korea.
Navy officials characterized the interactions as safe.
The Reagan Carrier Strike Group attempted to raise the bomber on the radio but the Russians made no answer. Bear bombers have a long-range and are used for reconnaissance, though they can be configured and loaded out with cruise missiles and anti-submarine weapons, among other things.
Close encounters between U.S. Navy forces and Russian reconnaissance flights were routine during the Cold War and have reemerged as Russia has reasserted its military might in the wake of the country's 2014 forcible annexation of Crimea. Nations in Europe and Asia have expressed increasing concerns over Russian incursions into their airspace.
The recent uptick in Russian surveillance flights is a signal to the West that they are back in the game after years of low activity, analysts say.

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