RUSSIAN NUCLEAR-CAPABLE BOMBERS INTERCEPTED NEAR WEST COAST IN SECOND U.S. AIR DEFENSE ZONE INTRUSION IN TWO WEEKS
PUTIN’S JULY 4TH MESSAGE
BY: Bill Gertz
July 6, 2012
Two Russian strategic nuclear bombers entered the U.S. air defense zone near the Pacific coast on Wednesday and were met by U.S. interceptor jets, defense officials told the Free Beacon.
It was the second time Moscow dispatched nuclear-capable bombers into the 200-mile zone surrounding U.S. territory in the past two weeks.
An earlier intrusion by two Tu-95 Bear H bombers took place near Alaska as part of arctic war games that a Russian military spokesman said included simulated attacks on “enemy” air defenses and strategic facilities.
A defense official said the Pacific coast intrusion came close to the U.S. coast but did not enter the 12-mile area that the U.S. military considers sovereign airspace.
The bomber flights near the Pacific and earlier flights near Alaska appear to be signs Moscow is practicing the targeting of its long-range air-launched cruise missiles on two strategic missile defense sites, one at Fort Greely, Alaska and a second site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
In May, Russian Gen. Nikolai Makarov, the chief of the Russian General Staff, said during a Moscow conference that because missile defense systems are destabilizing, “A decision on pre-emptive use of the attack weapons available will be made when the situation worsens.” The comments highlighted Russian opposition to planned deployments of U.S. missile defense interceptors and sensors in Europe.
The U.S. defense official called the latest Bear H incident near the U.S. West Coast “Putin’s Fourth of July Bear greeting to Obama.”