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Pair of Russian Surveillance Planes Came Within A Mile of Carrier USS Ronald Reagan, Ship Scrambled Fighters

An undated picture of a Tupelov Tu-142 Bear F/J maritime surveillance aircraft. Two similar aircraft came within a mile of carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).

An undated picture of a Tupelov Tu-142 Bear F/J maritime surveillance aircraft. Two similar aircraft came within a mile of carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).

Two Russian surveillance aircraft came within one nautical mile of the U.S. forward deployed carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) prompting the carrier to scramble armed fighters, Navy officials told USNI News on Thursday.
The Tuesday approach of the pair of Tupolev Tu-142 Bear F/J maritime toward the carrier strike group off of the Korean peninsula prompted Reagan to launch four alert fighters to escort the Bears while they were the vicinity of the carrier, Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins told USNI News.

“The interaction was characterized as, ‘safe’,” Hawkins said.
“This type of interaction is not unprecedented.”

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) steams alongside the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy destroyer Sejong the Great (DDG-991) on Oct. 28, 2015. US Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) steams alongside the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy destroyer Sejong the Great (DDG-991) on Oct. 28, 2015. US Navy Photo

Hawkins referenced a similar encounter in 2008 when alert fighters from USS Nimitz (CVN-68) intercepted a Tupolev Tu-95 Bear shortly after Russian president Vladimir Putin reinstituted long range strategic bomber patrols after a post-Cold War lull in the flights.

Reagan was on maneuvers with the South Korean Navy as part of a previously planned bilateral exercise, Hawkins said.

Since seizure of Crimea from Ukraine Russia has stepped up its patrols over both the Pacific and Atlantic.

NATO, Japan and U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) have registered a consistent uptick in Russian flights

In April of 2014 two fighters buzzed the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) in a manner deemed unsafe by U.S. officials and the Pentagon complained publically that the encounter was “provocative and unprofessional.”

In June 2014, an Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft was intercepted by Russian fighters in the Northern Pacific drawing similar complaints.

Categories: Aviation, Education Legislation, News & Analysis, Surface Forces, U.S. Navy
Sam LaGrone

About Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He was formerly the U.S. Maritime Correspondent for the Washington D.C. bureau of Jane’s Defence Weekly and Jane’s Navy International. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.