On July 4th, two pairs of Russian Tupolev Tu-95 bombers approached the US West coast, causing the Air Force to scramble to intercept the planes before they breached US airspace.
Fox News reports that the first incident occurred at 10:30 am ET off the coast of Alaska, when NORAD identified the Russian planes and two F-22s hurried to intercept them. Another incident occurred at 11 am ET off the coast of central California, and was responded to by two F-15s.
The Russian bombers they intercepted are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, but sources do not indicate whether or not they were armed.
The Air Force intercepted the bombers before they entered America’s sovereign air space, which extends 12 miles out from the coast, but the presence of the bombers is an ominous sign during the heightened tensions between Russia and the US.
As retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, who formerly commanded the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) told the Washington Free Beacon: “It’s becoming very obvious that Putin is testing Obama and his national security team.”
The type of warfare being teased is reminiscent of the Cold War not only in theory, but in practice.
“These long-range aviation excursions are duplicating exercises I experienced during the height of the Cold War when I commanded the Alaska NORAD region,” McInerney told the Free Beacon.
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Pentagon officials haven’t given the exact location of the interceptions, but ABC News cites one official as saying that it could have taken place as “far out as 200 miles.”
The Pentagon’s John Kirby told the Free Beacon that they assessed the flight of the Russian bombers as another training activity.