Russian Bombers Plus Fighter Jets Skirt Alaska, Get US Escort
Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, two Russian “Bear” bombers flew near Alaska again. Which wouldn’t be such a big deal, since they did it 4 days in a row last month. But this time, they were flanked by two SU-35 fighter jets.
According to US officials, the fighters were not armed and all Russian aircraft remained in international air space. Two USAF F-22 jets intercepted the group and provided escort away from the Alaskan coast.
President Trump spoke with President Putin on the phone May 3rd. The White House stated that it was a “very good call.” But they spoke only of Syria and North Korea, and made no mention of these aircraft incidents or any other of the myriad of issues dividing the US and Russia.
This is reportedly the first time US officials have seen the bombers escorted by fighter jets. But it won’t be the last time we see the bombers, and may not be the last time we see the fighter jets. Why?
Russian Military buildup- the New Cold War?
Russia has been dumping millions into building up their military bases. The Ugolny Airport near the town of Anadyr has been in use once again by the bombers and other aircraft. Chukotka Autonomous Okrug is the Eastern most part of Russia.The Bear Bombers are stationed there for patrols along the Pacific. So you have long range nuclear capable bombers, submarines, and ballistic missiles all along the Russian coast near Alaska.
Russia also opened several major bases in the Arctic. One of them, called the Arctic Shamrock, is a sprawling complex painted in the colors of the Russian flag. It sits on the largest part of the Franz Josef Land archipelago. It’s literally a straight shot to Alaska from the base. It’s not their only Arctic base, there is also a large complex on Kotelny Island, and in the far eastern part at Cape Schmidt, which is also near Anadyr.
Cape Schmidt was recently resettled by Russian troops. Three thousand tons of cargo and construction materials were sent there for the purpose of renovating the antiquated buildings.
All was not Vodka and Borscht in the building of these bases, either. For months workers went without food or supplies. Workers at Franz Josef Land even staged a strike in 2015 that was only resolved after Russian media drew attention to it.
In addition, Russia planned another 13 airfields, a test range, and 10 radar sites. They claim all of that is for ‘protection of strategic resources.’
Fortunately in all of this, we have defenses too. Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska is currently conducting exercises with literally thousands of participants from every service. F-22 Raptors were already on patrol when they intercepted the Russian bombers. NORAD and NORTHCOMM is on it, so we’re just fine so far. But we might need to pay attention to world events.