Russian nuclear bombers were intercepted near Guam this week after circling the US territory.
US jets scrambled to respond to the intrusion after two Russian Tu-95 Bear-H strategic bombers circled the island on February 12.
Fox News reports that the incident happened shortly before President Barack Obama issued his State of the Union address.
The Russian Bear bombers stayed in international airspace. The encounter between the two countries’ aircraft “stayed professional,” according to a military official.
NBC News notes that US long-range radars and satellites tracked the two bombers. They took off from northeastern Russia and headed south. Their journey required “multiple refueling.”
The bombers also flew past Japan, which scrambled fighter jets as they passed close to, but did not breach Japanese airspace.
While it is unusual, US military officials say that it isn’t unprecedented for Russian bombers to fly training missions near Guam. One official added, “It wasn’t provocative but it certainly got our attention.” Guam carries a strategic US military base that holds long-range B-52 bombers.
US officials have said that the number of flights like February 12th’s have increased since Russian President Vladimir Putin was re-elected. Those flights typically take place near Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. Encounters between Russian and American military aircraft have remained “generally very professional.”
Military officials have not speculated on the timing of Russia’s bomber encounter. The Washington Free Beacon added that Air Force Captain Kim Bender, a spokeswoman for the Pacific Air Force in Hawaii, confirmed the encounter.
She added that the Russian bombers were intercepted and “left the area in a northbound direction. She added that no other details of the incident will be released, “for operational security reasons.”
[Image by United States Air Force [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]