Second Nuclear-Capable Bomber Incursion Into ADIZ In Two Weeks
A pair of Russian Tu-95 "Bear" bombers were intercepted by U.S. military jets for the second time in two weeks on July 4th. The bombers were met within the 200-mile Air Defence Zone near Alaska.
A Russian military spokesman said the bombers were participating in arctic war games which simulated attacks on "enemy" air defenses and strategic facilities, according to a report in the Washington Free Beacon.
Defense officials said the bombers did not penetrate the 12-mile line considered the border of sovereign U.S. airspace. But the flights are thought to be an indication that Moscow is conducting targeting practice on strategic missile defense sites in Greely, AK and Vandenberg AFB in CA. Russian military officials said in May that missile defense systems are "destabilizing," and that “A decision on preemptive use of the attack weapons available will be made when the situation worsens.”
One pentagon official, who requested anonymity, said the flights are Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's "Fourth of July Bear greeting to Obama." A retired Air Force Lt. General who had been commander of NORAD in Alaska said it appears that "Putin is testing Obama and his National Security Team." Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney (ret) said he had seen similar flights when he was commanding NORAD in the state.
Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby confirmed that the incident had occurred, but that the Russian bombers had not entered "sovereign airspace." He also did not specify what type of aircraft had been scrambled to meet the bombers. The flights were downplayed by the Pentagon, which categorized the flights as "another training activity."