Thursday, August 09, 2007

Russian Bombers Visit Guam; Smiles Exchanged

The BBC is reporting that two Tu-95 turboprops made a 13-hour flight to Guam earlier this week, home to a large U.S. military base, for a brief visit.

Russian general Pavel Androsov offered the following statement, regarding the bomber sojourn:
"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,"

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

"I think the result was good. We met our colleagues - fighter jet pilots from [US] aircraft carriers. We exchanged smiles and returned home."
From Interfax, we have Assistant to the Air Force Commander Col. Alexander Drobyshevsky making the following statements:
"All flights by our strategic bombers were made in accordance with international rules. The airplanes flew over neutral waters, never approaching foreign air borders."
Also from the Interfax report, an excited Long Range Aviation Commander, Maj. Gen. Pavel Androsov said:
"Can you imagine this: taking off in Blagoveshchensk, 13 hours of flight, a flight over neutral waters where our airplanes met with their NATO colleagues, ship-borne fighters, an exchange of smiles. The mission has been successfully completed"
The flights are part of a larger pattern of more expansive Russian military operations in recent weeks, according to BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus. This is possibly or even likely part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meetings and war games and meeting in Kyrgyzstan this month.

The United States is conducting its own training operations or war games, called "Valiant Shield" in the area of Guam. It is one of largest U.S. military exercises held anywhere in the world, and involves over 22,000 troops, 30 ships, and 275 planes.

A report from the Washington Post quotes Navy Admiral Robert F. Willard as saying that the Tu-95 bombers never came within even 300 miles of Guam:
"U.S. planes went to an orbit point in preparation for an intercept that never occurred because the Bears didn't get close enough,"
The Tu-95 (NATO designation "Bear") was developed during the Cold War in the 1950's as an intercontinental bomber and was originally intended to drop nuclear weapons. In recent years they have been modified for other roles such as patrols and even as a civilian airliner.

UPDATE: Spook86 of "In From the Cold" blog discusses the recen
Publish Postt bomber flights, their Cold War history, and speculates on a return to Tu-95 missions that pass the United States east coast.

UPDATE 2: Vladimir Putin has indicated that Russian long-range flights and missions will resume from this date forward.
The flights are cited as being necessary due to perceived military threats from "other states", a supposed allusion to the U.S.

At least one outrageous bigot on the web is calling this "instigating WW III" - perhaps one of the most entirely stupid things I've ever seen in print. Then again, some people actually believe the Weekly World News.

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