Russian-Bomber Flights Alarm NORAD

Russian-Bomber Flights Alarm NORAD
March 11th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Russian-Bomber Flights Alarm NORAD

Russian-Bomber Flights Alarm NORAD
Denver Post
March 11, 2008 By Bruce Finley, The Denver Post
Frequent flying by Russian strategic bombers near American airspace drawing U.S. fighter jets has military officials at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs on guard and angling for greater openness and cooperation.
While odds are low that these increasing Russian forays will cause a catastrophe, "there's more of a risk of something accidental happening," Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said Monday after meeting here with homeland defense commanders.
"We will clearly watch this evolution," Mullen said of the Russian flights not detected in such numbers since the Cold War.
"We've got good military-to-military relations with the Russians. My sense is there's no strategic intent to threaten the United States."
To prevent problems, the Colorado-based North American Aerospace Defense and Northern commands this month initiated joint exercises with Russian counterparts here and in Alaska a return to Cold War-era efforts to manage tensions.
Uniformed Russian officers participated in a tabletop drill testing how each side would respond to a hijacking of a passenger airliner.
Russian "Bear" bombers led NORAD crews to scramble U.S. fighter jets 46 times last year, according to records provided by military officials.
This represents a sharp escalation after a handful of incidents in previous years. After the Cold War, the frequency of bomber and fighter-jet confrontations decreased as the U.S. and Russian governments focused on reducing their nuclear arsenals.
In one incident last month, a Russian Tu-142 bomber buzzed about 2,000 feet over the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier off Japan. U.S. fighters intercepted it south of the battleship.
In another, U.S. F-22s tracked two Russian Bear-H bombers lumbering over Alaska's Aleutian Islands on Nov. 22.
The Russian bombers "are not on any flight plan. They are not complying with the internationally accepted rules of operation.
In the post- 9/11 environment, it is difficult to have unidentified aircraft flying toward your airspace if you don't know who they are or what their plans are," Air Force Gen. Victor Renuart, commander of NORAD and Northern Command, said in an interview.
"There's a need to identify any unidentified aircraft approaching U.S. airspace."
NORAD leaders said Russia's bombers are not visibly armed but that they could be carrying weapons, including nuclear bombs.
The best bet to avoid miscalculations, U.S. officials said, would be for the Russians to file flight plans notifying the U.S. of training flights.
But Russian military officials have rejected this, Renuart said.
"The Russian approach today is that these are military-training flights in unmonitored airspace and that they are within their rights to fly without an international flight plan. While that is at a basic level correct, the potential risk to commercial aviation makes it tougher" to accept, Renuart said.
On Monday, Joint Chiefs chairman Mullen also visited Army soldiers and families at Fort Carson to thank them for their efforts in Iraq.
Mullen said in a news conference that military leaders have plans for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq. "We plan all the time."
If a new U.S. president orders a quick withdrawal, he would be ready, he said.
Just back from Iraq, Mullen said security progress since December "was palpable."
It "creates the kind of headroom where political reconciliation can continue," he said.

Similar Topics
Russian flights set off new defense scramble
Russian Bomber Violates Japan Airspace
Russian flights raised concern
Russian Heros
"Sweden under attack !" A possible future scenario