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Russia sends nuclear bomb aircraft to patrol US military base

Russia sparks Cold War scramble

Russian bombers have flown to the US Pacific island of Guam in a manoeuvre reminiscent of the Cold War era.

Two Tu-95 turboprops flew this week to Guam, home to a big US military base, Russian Maj Gen Pavel Androsov said, a story confirmed by the US.

They "exchanged smiles" with US pilots who scrambled to track them, he added.

The sorties, believed to be the first since the Cold War ended, come as Russia stresses a more assertive foreign policy, correspondents say.

The flight is part of a pattern of more expansive Russian military operations in recent weeks, says BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus.

Old practice

Gen Androsov said the strategic bombers had flown 13 hours from their base in the Russian Far East during the exercise.

"It has always been the tradition of our long-range aviation to fly far into the ocean, to meet [US] aircraft carriers and greet [US pilots] visually," he said at a news conference.

"Yesterday [Wednesday] we revived this tradition, and two of our young crews paid a visit to the area of the base of Guam," he said.

"I think the result was good. We met our colleagues - fighter jet pilots from [US] aircraft carriers. We exchanged smiles and returned home," he added.

A spokesman for the Pentagon confirmed that the Tu-95s were spotted heading to Guam, adding that US fighter readied themselves to repel them.

"We prepared to intercept the bombers but they did not come close enough to a US Navy ship or to the island of Guam to warrant an air-to-air intercept," the spokesman said.

During the Cold War, Soviet bombers regularly flew long-haul missions to areas patrolled by Nato and the US.

The bombers have the capability of launching a nuclear strike with the missiles they carry.


BBC News, "Russia sparks Cold War scramble", 9 August 2007.


BBC News, "RAF jets intercept Russian planes", 10 May 2007.
    Tornado F3 jets from RAF Leuchars in Fife were sent to intercept two Russian aircraft spotted observing a Royal Navy exercise, it has emerged.
    The jets were scrambled after the foreign planes were detected by radar in the skies over the Outer Hebrides.
    They were identified as Russian Bear Foxtrot planes, commonly seen by RAF pilots during the Cold War.
    The Russian aircraft were escorted from the area by the RAF who said no radio contact took place between the pilots.
    A spokesman for the RAF refused to say when exactly the incident took place but revealed it had lasted no longer than 15 to 20 minutes.
    An international live firing exercise, named Operation Neptune Warrior and involving 14 countries, was carried out in the area [the enemy in mind is clearly Russia in any NATO exercise in this region] between 22 April and 3 May.
    During the exercise 14 destroyers and frigates, submarines and patrol boats were engaged in collective training.

BBC News, "Canada PM asserts Arctic claims", 10 August 2007.
    Canada's prime minister has stressed his country's claims to the Arctic region on a trip there, days after Russia laid claim to the North Pole. [25% of the world's remaining oil reserves are thought to be located in this region, and global warming has caused the ice cap to recede improving access.]
    Correspondents say Stephen Harper's tour has taken on new urgency since Russian sailors dropped a flag on the sea bed below the pole last week.
    "Canada has taken its sovereignty too lightly for too long," Mr Harper said.
    "This government has put a big emphasis on reinforcing, on strengthening our sovereignty in the Arctic."
    Melting polar ice has led to competing claims over access to Arctic resources.

"The Insider" mailing list article, 10 August 2007.

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Tags: Russia, US, military, base, Pacific, Guam, Russian, nuclear, bombers, , conspiracy theories.

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