Two Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers were intercepted near the key US Pacific military base in Guam, the Washington Free Beacon website claimed. The news comes ahead of the possible sequestration of the US military budget.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, several ‘Russian Bears’ – the NATO classification of the Tu-95 – provocatively approached the US stronghold on February 12, the same day that President Barack Obama was preparing to deliver his State of the Union address.
US Air Force F-15 jets based at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam were scrambled to repel the intruders, Pacific Air Force in Hawaii spokesperson Captain Kim Bender confirmed.
Captain Bender said that the bombers were intercepted north of Guam, and did not provide further details “for operational security reasons.” Because the Russian bombers stayed above international waters and made no attempts to approach the base, “No further actions occurred,” she said.
The Washington Free Beacon article claimed that the visit was unprecedented, though in August 2007 two Russian Tu-95 bombers made a flight to Guam as part of military drills, a fact later confirmed by the Russian Air Force.
The report cited former State Department security official Mark Groombridge, who said that “The Russians are clearly sending a signal that they consider the Pacific an area of vital national strategic interest and that they still have at least some power projection capabilities to counterbalance against any possible increase in US military assets in the region.”
Tu-95s are armed with various types of X-55 cruise missiles with enough range (2,500 kilometers) to fire their 200-kiloton thermonuclear warheads from a safe distance beyond the reach of theGuam base’s radar.