Ships Were Conducting Drills With South Koreans In
US military officials last week said Russian planes overflew two
US Naval ships participating in military exercises with South
Korea. The ships were in international waters in the Sea of
On Monday, the USS John C. Stennis was buzzed by a Russian
Ilyushin IL-38 "May" maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare
aircraft flying at 500 feet, perhaps the lowest flyover to date.
The USS Stennis is a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier, and
its home port is Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton, WA.
Tuesday, two Russian Tupolev Tu-95MS "Bear" long-range bombers
overflew the USS Stennis and the USS Blue Ridge several times at
about 2,000 feet. The USS Blue Ridge is a Blue Ridge-class command
ship, based at Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan.
On both days, US fighter jets were scrambled in response to the
overflights. The Russian planes refused to answer repeated calls on
international air frequency radio channels and were escorted out of
the area, CNN reported.
As ANN reported, last month a similar scenario
was played out when four US F/A-18 jets were scrambled to intercept
a Russian Tu-95MS "Bear" bomber as it flew at 2,000 feet above the
USS Nimitz, operating south of Japan -- the latest in a series of
increasingly bold gestures by a resurgent Russian air force.
Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright said such encounters usually end
without incident, but raise big questions. "Now what we are
concerned about is, 'What are the indications of this return to a
Cold War mindset?' What are the implications of that activity, and
how do we best address that?"
Standard practices from our standpoint are to "intercept,
escort, follow them through, and then follow them until they are
out of range of the battle group's normal operations," Cartwright
Such interceptions and disputes over them were common during the
Cold War when Soviet bombers regularly flew missions over neutral
waters. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the flights became
less common and even stopped for a time. Recent moves by the
Russian government to assert its military power in the
international arena has given rise to the flights once again.