Friday, February 15, 2008

Russian Tupolev Bombers 'buzzed' U.S. Aircraft Carrier

February 12, 2008 09:23am

US Navy fighter jets were scrambled to shadow and intercept a Russian bomber which buzzed and circled over an American aircraft carrier over the weekend in a Top Gun-style incident in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

One Russian Tupolev 95 buzzed the USS Nimitz twice on Saturday, the Associated Press has reported an anonymous source as saying.

The plane flew over the carrier at an altitude of just 600m, similar to the "fly-bys" depicted in the Tom Cruise film. A second Russian bomber circled nearby.

The Russians had been tracked since they took off from Ukrainka and were monitored as they broke off from the rest of their formation and flew into Japanese air space.

The two Tupolevs continued on a course towards the Nimitz and a US guided missile cruiser, USS Princeton.

Four F/A-18 fighter planes were sent to intercept them when they breached an 800km perimeter. Two stayed with the Tupolev circling at altitude about 80km from the Nimitz while two followed the other bomber as it approached the carrier.

The US fighters trailed the Tuoplev as it buzzed the Nimitz. No words were exchanged between the US and Russian pilots throughout the entire incident.

Here's how the whole incident might have looked:

These types of incidents were so common during the Cold War that neither side bothered reporting them, the Associated Press has said.

But it is the first time a Tupolev has flown over a US carrier since 2004.

Tensions have been growing between the US and Russia in recent years as Moscow seeks to reassert itself on the world stage.

US plans to build a missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic have angered the Kremlin, which see the shield as a threat.