Russian Bombers Fly by US Carrier Near South Korea

A pair of Russian TU-142 “bear” anti-submarine aircraft flew within one nautical mile of the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan on Thursday, according to the Pentagon. The carrier scrambled four F/A-18 fighters in response.

Russian bombers fly by US carrier near South Korea on Thursday.

The USS Ronald Reagan testing its rudder. (Image source: Wikipedia

The USS Ronald Reagan was participating in a training exercise with the South Korean navy in international waters east of the Korean peninsula. The Russian planes approached at a low altitude of about 500 feet above sea level.

Confrontations between the rival powers are rare in this region. “There was nothing to indicate they were posing a direct threat,” according to Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis.

Yet tensions between the two nations have been mounting in recent years. There has been a disturbing increase in the number of hostile encounters. The Washington Post reported on April 7th that a Russian fighter jet pulled alongside a U.S. reconnaissance plane above the Baltic Sea. The fighter rolled over to reveal its weaponry and then passed only 20 feet from the American plane at a speed of more than 1,000 miles per hour. The Russian plane then repeated the risky fly by. On May 30th, Russian SU-24 fighters harassed the a U.S. destroyer, the USS Ross, in Black Sea waters near Crimea.


A Russian SU-24 fighter flies by the U.S. destroyer Ross.

Flashpoints include the Baltic Sea, Black Sea and, more disturbingly, Syria. Russia and the United States share the same airspace to fight ISIS terrorists.

“We’re going to have an accident if we’re not careful,” says Heather Conley, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It’s not a full-blown Cold War, but we are starting to see some new and troubling signs of Russian aggression.”


A map showing expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) (source: Wikipedia )

Yet many Russians view the United States as the aggressor. Viktor Baranez, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman under former Russian President Boris Yeltsin complains that “NATO has broken all the promises it made during the process of German reunification” and “has pushed its way right up to our national borders with guns.”

As for the incident on Thursday, a Pentagon statement “characterized this interaction as safe.”


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