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Russian Jet Training Missions Spur NATO Alert

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Russian Tu-95 “Bear” and Tu-160 “Blackjack” bombers on military flight missions skirting Norwegian borders have NATO on cautious alert. The significance of seeing increased Russian bombers in international air space means that Putin is serious about strengthening strategic bombing preparations.

At the Bodoe airbase, above the Arctic circle, two F-16s are always on call, ready to take off in less than 15 minutes for stand-offs with surprise visitors from Norway’s eastern neighbour.

“We have noticed a clear rise in Russian aerial activity over the past year,” said base air commander general Per Egil Rygg.

“This has given us a lot more to do,” he added.

In 2006, Norwegian F-16s carried out 13 emergency take-offs to “identify”, as the military jargon goes, 14 Russian planes.

A year later, the number of emergency take-offs leapt to 47, with a whopping 88 Russian planes “identified”.

The increase appears to be largely due to a decision by then-president Vladimir Putin to relaunch strategic bomber flights “on a permanent basis”.

This isn’t the first time that Russia has spread its wings and taunted bordering countries. In 2006 and 2007, Russian jets flew close to British and Netherlands air space.

In February 2008, two Russian bombers were intercepted flying close to and escorted away from the U.S. Nimitz in the Western Pacific Ocean.

Over the last six years, NATO jets stopping Russian jets have increased. How does Alaskan Governor and Vice President candidate Sarah Palin figure into these foreign incursions? She has had to deal with Russian bombers in Alaskan air space four times [bolded below] over the last two years.

  • April 2002 — two Tu-95s flew within 37 miles of Alaska, were intercepted by two F-15s.
  • January 2004 — a Tu-95a flew over the USS Kitty Hawk in the Sea of Japan.
  • September 2006 — NORAD scrambled Canadian CF-18s from CFB Cold Lake in Central Alberta and American F-15s out of an airbase in Alaska to intercept a number of the Russian Tu-95 Bear heavy bombers participating in an annual Russian air force exercise near the coast of Alaska and Canada.
  • May 2007 — the Royal Air Force scrambled two Tornado fighters from RAF Leuchars in Scotland to intercept a Tu-95 observing the Royal Navy exercise Neptune Warrior.
  • July 2007 — two Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s (from Bodø, Norway) and subsequently two RAF Tornados (from RAF Leeming, England) intercepted two Tu-95s as they made their way down the Norwegian coast towards Scotland.
  • August 2007 — two Tu-95s flew towards the U.S. base on Guam, were intercepted by U.S. fighter planes.
  • August 2007 — two RAF Typhoons were launched to intercept a Tu-95 that had veered towards British airspace over the North Sea. The Tu-95 later turned away.
  • September 2007 — six Russian bombers were intercepted by six F-15s from Elmendorf Air Force Base, 50 miles from the northwest coast of Alaska.
  • September 2007 — Two Norwegian F-16s tracked eight Tu-95s over the Barents Sea as they neared Norwegian airspace. The bombers flew past Norway and continued towards British airspace where four RAF Tornados were scrambled from RAF Leeming before the Russian planes turned away. It was the same day that Canadian Forces’ CF-18s were scrambled to escort Russian Tu-95s outside Canadian airspace near Inuvik, Northwest Territories.
  • November 2007 — F-22A Raptors performed their first intercept of two Russian Tu-95s in Alaska.
  • February 2008 — 24 aircraft including F-15 Eagles and an E-767 AWAC from the Japanese air force scrambled and gave “a notice, then a warning and another a notice and a warning,” as a Russian Tu-95 violated the country’s airspace during a three-minute flyover of Sofugan in the Izu Islands. Japan formally issued a strong protest, demanded prevention of future incidents and presented a protest note to the Russian Embassy in Tokyo. Russian officials conversely stated that four Tupolev Tu-95 bombers completed a 10-hour mission over the Pacific on Saturday, but “our strategic aviation planes did not violate Japanese airspace.”
  • February 2008 — in the Western Pacific, a Russian Tu-95 flew over the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz twice, at a low altitude of about 2,000 feet, while another bomber circled about 58 miles out. Four American F/A-18 fighters were scrambled to track the bombers.
  • March 2008 — Off the eastern coast of South Korea, a Russian Tu-95 flew over USS Nimitz and was intercepted by two F/A-18 Hornets at an altitude of 2,000 feet at a distance of about 3-5 miles. Four South Korean F-16s were also scrambled to intercept the bomber.
  • March 2008 — Off the coast of Alaska, Two U.S. Air Force F-15s escorted two Russian Bear long-range bombers out of an air exclusion zone.
  • April 2008 — Two Tu-95 bombers from Engels-2, along with two Il-78 refueling aircraft, were escorted by NATO Tornados and F-16s over the Atlantic.
  • May 2008 — Two Tu-95 bombers from Ukrainka air base conducted a 20 hour patrol over the Arctic Ocean, CF-18s intercepted them as the bombers headed towards the Alaskan airspace.

Dealing with Russian jets in Alaskan air space isn’t the norm for small town mayors and governors. Sarah Palin’s greatest asset is that Middle Class America can relate to her and Russian Prime Minister Vladmir Putin knows exactly who he would be dealing with in her role as Vice President, possible Presidential role. I’m sure our enemies are hoping that the Obama/Biden tag team wins.

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Written by smalltalkwitht

September 1, 2008 at 10:25 am

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