- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
- U.N. warns of Muslim ‘cleansing’ in Central African Republic
- Senate blocks change to military sex assault cases
- Drug mix may have cured child born with HIV, doctors say
Inside the Ring: New Bear bomber flights
Two Russian strategic nuclear bombers carried out a fourth high-profile training flight last week, flying near South Korea, where large-scale war games are under way, and near Japan and the U.S. military bases on Okinawa.
It was the fourth time since June 2012 that Russian bombers have run up against U.S. and allied air defense zones in the Pacific.
Defense officials told Inside the Ring that two Tu-95 Bear-H nuclear-capable bombers, Russia’s main nuclear cruise-missile delivery vehicle, were detected Friday in the Pacific Command theater of operations coming from a base in Russia’s Far East.
A Japanese Embassy spokesman confirmed that two Tu-95s were intercepted by Japanese fighter jets on March 15. He did not elaborate.
Pacific Command spokeswoman Air Force Lt. Col. DeDe Halfhill declined to provide details of the flights or say whether any U.S. interceptor jets were sent aloft to follow the bombers. She instead referred questions to the Russian, Japanese and South Korean governments, even though she acknowledged that the incident took place within the command’s area of responsibility.
It could not be learned whether South Korean interceptor jets were scrambled to trail the bombers.
The latest Russian strategic bomber flights near Okinawa, where U.S. Marines are deployed, followed a Feb. 12 incursion around Guam, July 4 bomber flights near the California coast, and practice bomber sorties near Alaska in June.
The failure of the Pacific Command to discuss the incident appears to be part of a new Pentagon policy of refusing to answer reporters’ questions about troubling developments that might undermine the Obama administration’s conciliatory policies toward both Russia and China. For example, Friday’s flights took place just over a month after two other Tu-95s flew around the U.S. Pacific island of Guam — a major hub for the U.S. military buildup in the region.
Earlier, a Pentagon spokeswoman referred a reporter to China’s communist government when asked about the country’s expanding nuclear forces, despite the Pentagon having a legal requirement to provide public information about those forces in its annual report to Congress on the Chinese military.
The Feb. 12 bomber flights were the first time the Russians had conducted such long-range strategic operations near Guam in more than 20 years. Yet, a military official described the bomber incursions as “routine.”
Guam was used by two U.S. B-52 strategic bombers for flights over South Korea on March 8 and March 15 as part of ongoing military exercises that Pentagon officials said demonstrated U.S. “extended deterrence” nuclear protection, in the face of growing nuclear threats from North Korea.
The earlier Russian bomber incident near California was also dismissed by military spokesmen as routine after two Bear H bombers on July 4 flew the closest to the U.S. West Coast that any Russian bomber had flown since the days of the Soviet Union.
Obama hit on missile defense
A senior member of the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday wrote to President Obama, expressing concerns about the administration’s concessions to Russia on missile defense and revealing Moscow’s violations of current arms treaties.
“I am deeply concerned about your sudden shift in the U.S. missile defense strategy,” Rep. Mike Rogers, Alabama Republican and chairman of the strategic forces subcommittee, stated in his letter to the president.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
- Inside the Ring: Pentagon reevaluating Obama's pivot to Asia
- Inside the Ring: All eyes on Moscow's military moves in Ukraine
- Inside the Ring: China readies for 'short, sharp' war with Japan
- Inside the Ring: U.S., China in war of words over South China Sea air zone
- Inside the Ring: China military on the rails
TWT Video Picks
By Tammy Bruce
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- Putin has transformed Russian army into a lean, mean fighting machine
- IRS to turn over Lerner emails in tea party targeting probe
- DELAY: A revolution for the Constitution
- BRUCE: Obama's bizarre immigration rules
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- PRUDEN: Likening Putin to Hitler on Ukraine shows Hillary's shaky grasp of history
- Unemployment insurance vote could happen next week
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Border Patrol policy still permits agents to shoot at rock-throwers
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again