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

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.

  • Matt

    Was this timed to coincide with USS Lassen’s freedom of navigation patrol? Russia would have great interest in giving confidence to the Chinese claim of the entire South China Sea because it covers their own recent large seizures of territory. Pretending this is normal in any way could be perceived as weakness and lead to additional large seizures of foreign territories.

    • Curtis Conway

      Probably not but there is no telling.

      • As I said, Russia has already achieved its goals.

    • No timing. Russia has already achieved its goal–invading Ukraine and taking the airspae in Syria.

  • Marcd30319

    If Russia is going to do this nonsense, we need to go back to EMCON status and maybe do a redux of FLEETEX 83-1, Ocean Safari 85, and Northern Wedding 86 to remind Putin who the big dog really is.


      We snuck the U.S.S Nimitz up NORPAC and down through the Straights of Malacca. EMCON all the way. I learned years later that the Russians flew 16 Backfire Bombers at us to show their displeasure. Grin….

  • Pingback: Press Today » Russian bombers buzz US carrier()

  • Nadine Francis

    Why are they still using prop-jets? I thought those were decadent?

    • Props work. Old fashion still works.

    • That is a TU-95 series “Bear” reconnaissance/bomber aircraft with counter rotating props. It has been around for years as has our B-52 jet platform and is an excellent long range aircraft.
      We old timers know that “age doesn’t matter.”

      • Nadine Francis

        I am an old timer!

      • Bruce9

        First flight
        18 July 1968[]



    • Sandy

      Because they are efficient and those counter-rotating props produce nearly jet speeds. Better learn some history, youngin’. LOL…just kiddin’….

      • halifaxresolves

        Bingo. The efficiency of prop driven engines makes a positive difference in long range platforms.

        • Sandy

          yep…just like high-bypass turbofans, which, those could be argued they are….

      • Secundius

        @ Sandy.

        I’d like to known what the Physical Damage to the Nervous System IS, from Prolonged Exposure of the Harmonic Vibrations coming off those Kuznetsov NK-12M Turboprops. Because, I’ve heard that the Sound those Engines produce can be “Registered” from the SOSUS Underwater Early-Warning Sonar System. Some 1,440-feet Below the Surface of the Atlantic Ocean…

      • Nadine Francis

        I am probably old enough to b your mother or grandmother.

        • Sandy

          Nadine…nope…got a married son, and I am closing in on retirement…GOD Bless!

  • muzzleloader

    When I was on Westpac in the 70’s this kind of stuff was commonplace. Bears, TU-16 Badgers, and IL-38 May’s were regularly flying in near proximity to our ship ( USS Enterprise). We always scrambled Tomcats to intercept and escort them away. When transiting in International waters there was little to be done. The key is we always knew when they were coming, and they knew we knew. The white ones hanging on the Tomcats missile rails told them”go ahead, try something”.

  • So the buzz a carrier. But USN carriers have hundreds of missiles and alert systems ready..what’s new?

  • This is nothing new. Overflights and interceptions have been happening for fifty years and possibly more. What is newsworthy about this is Putin’s throwback mentality to the old Soviet Cold War days. Time will tel whether or not the Russians can afford it.

  • Mr. Speaker

    Nothing new here but the media will stir the pot and get the warhawks pounding their fists.

  • Jim Barden

    In Feb87 MARG 2-87 was overflown by a pair of surveillance configured Badgers. We had plenty of notice, starting with info on their presence in Tartus. I think their mission was to see if we changed our EMCON condition in any way as a result of their overflight. We kept a poker face. The commodore went to Air Warning Red, and we got to exercize transitioning from Condition III to Condition I, practicing the whole detect to engage sequence such as it is on an amphib.

  • halifaxresolves

    I am not conversant in carrier group anti aircraft tactics, so someone who is please answer these questions. Reading between the lines, this article leaves one with the impression that the Bears surprised our carrier group. Surely that is not the case. Do we still fly E-2Cs on a standing patrol?
    Is the issue that the E-2C couldn’t pick up the lumbering Bears flying at an altitude of 500 feet?
    Do we still fly standing F/A 18 air patrols over our carrier groups?
    How does a Russian Bear or two, potentially armed with anti-ship missiles get within one nautical mile of our multi billion dollar carrier?
    Scrambling F/A 18s once a pair of Bears is allowed to fly within one nautical mile of a carrier seems a little late.
    I am not meaning to be overly critical of the Reagan or her escorts, but this just doesn’t seem to be right.

    • @USS_Fallujah

      The article doesn’t actually say that, but by opening with the 1nm then saying they scrambled alert fighters you’d get that impression. In all likelyhood, the Carrier at it’s AEW detetcted the Bear hundred of miles away and sent out the alert aircraft (CBGs don’t keep CAP 24/7, it wastes fuel & airframe our to just cut doughnuts in the sky), BTW “Scrambled” is a bit of a misnomer in this scenario, any alert fighter that is launched is scrambled, even if the intercept takes place 200+ miles from the carrier. The fighters were then only brought close enough to “escort” the Bears while they were within 50 or so miles, just to let them know we cared.
      All in all it’s a much ado about nothing,

  • Stephen Smith

    As stated by many others, these over flights are nothing new. To me, the most shocking thing is that the carrier battle group was “surprised” by the Bears. When I was flying if the Bears were not intercepted at 200 miles or more the CV Battle Group Commander and the carrier CO were both called on the carpet and fired. 199 miles was unacceptable. When the F-14 was replaced by the F/A-18 the distance was reduced to 150 miles. The reason for the reduction: The F/A-18 can’t go 200 miles without needing fuel at that distance. Russian air-to-surface missiles can still be fired at the carrier from 200 miles but this is acceptable to the “modern Navy” just so they can have the F/A-18 instead of a good fighter like the F-14.

    • James W McCarthy

      I thought the Hornet had a 1000 mile range and the E/F Rhino had almost double that at 2000 miles.

      • Secundius

        @ James W McCarthy.

        Your referring to “Ferrying Range” as oppose to “Combat Radius”. Ferrying Range, applies to getting the Aircraft from Point “A” to Point “B” with Maximum Fuel Load and NO Weapon Load. Combat Radius, applies to Flying Out to a Specific Position, Staying on Station for a Predetermined Period of Time with Weapons and Return to Home Safely with Minimal Fuel Load…

        • James W McCarthy

          His numbers are wrong. Youre correct about the ferry range.
          If you’re arguing that a Rhino has around a 200 mile combat radius, you’re wrong too.
          The F-18E/F has a 2000 mile ferry range.
          The clean Range with 2aim-9 us 1350 miles.
          Full Combat radius (interdiction) is 449 miles.
          He’s right IF he’s only talking about the c/d bug.
          He’s wrong if he meant the Rhino.

          • Secundius

            @ James W McCarthy.

            No, I just trying to explain the “General” differences of Ferrying Range and Combat Radius. I wasn’t trying to explain the “Specific” Difference in Type’s of Aircraft’s Used…

  • Pingback: Europe Needs Intel, Ships, & High-Level Focus: Gen. Breedlove « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary()

  • John B. Morgen

    The Russians are back to their very old tricks. Alright, let’s play?

  • magic3400

    …Maverick on ready 5?

    Not much has changed in 30 years…

  • disqus_zommBwspv9

    Just dust off the playbook but leave room for necessary caveats, since America is not dealing with the Old soviets and PLA. But with the new Russia and Chinese Military I was Never was allowed to use the term “overflight” but ” approach the formation” was acceptable May our next administration be able to deal from a position of strength Not appeasement

  • disqus_zommBwspv9

    No more F-14’s with a Phoniex and that beauitiful nose camera

  • Pingback: October Member Round-Up Part Two: Sam Cohen()

  • Michael D. Woods

    So the game is on again! We did that in the seventies. We’d thump ’em (supersonic passes) until they opened their bomb bays and we’d fly under to see they were empty. Don’t worry, though. They’re trying to be annoying and they are, but no real threat. If they ever present a real threat, they can’t win.

  • Michael D. Woods

    Oh, and remember the Chinese MIG-21 and P-3 encounter some years ago? Believe me, you can’t hit a MIG-21 with a P-3. The difference in maneuverability makes it impossible unless the MIG pilot is totally incompetent or wants to collide.