Thu, Mar 27, 2008
No, This Isn't "The Wildlife Channel"...
It must be springtime... as the "Bears" have emerged from their
brief hibernation, and are snooping around Alaska again.
Since this is "Aero-News," of course we're talking about Russian
Tu-95 "Bear" bombers. On Wednesday, two US Air Force F-15 Eagles
escorted two Bears out of the exclusion zone off the Alaskan coast,
Sightings of the Cold War-era turboprops flying near western
countries have become increasingly common over the past year. The
flights are a not-so-subtle show-of-force by the newly resurgent
Russian air force.
In addition to North America, since August 2007 Bears have also
been sighted near the UK, Finland, and Guam. The stepped-up nature
of the overflights prompted NORAD commander General Gene Renuart to
issue an unusual request last October -- that the Russian crews please file flight
plans, so officials in the US and other western
countries knew they were coming.
Apparently, the Bears sighted Wednesday weren't on such plans.
US radar picked up the two bombers about 500 miles off the Alaskan
coast, in the air exclusion zone barring unidentified planes from
flying near Alaska.
Two F-15s from Elmendorf Air Force Base intercepted the planes,
and shooed the Bears off.
In February, four Tu-95s flew close to the American aircraft
carrier USS Nimitz south of Japan. One of the planes even "buzzed"
the nuclear-powered ship, twice -- as another indicator the Russian
bear -- and its Bear bombers -- are feeling their oats.
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