Russian Fighter Jets Intercepted Near US Warship in Sea of Japan
Two Russian bomber jets approached the area of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier on Oct. 29.
The Ronald Reagan was operating in the Sea of Japan at the time. The two nuclear-capable Tupolev Tu-95MS strategic bombers, nicknamed “Bears,” were 80 miles away from the aircraft carrier when they were intercepted by two Japanese jets, according to The Diplomat.
The U.S. Navy also sent out F/A-18 fighter jets to escort the Russian bombers away from the ship. Japanese officials say the jets did not enter Japanese airspace. U.S. officials said the Russian aircraft then proceeded in a safe and professional manner without incident, CNN reported.
According to The Independent, Russian defense officials said, “Two Russian Tu-95MS Bear bombers carried out scheduled flights over neutral waters of the Sea of Japan and the western part of the Pacific Ocean.”
The United States and Russian militaries regularly intercept the aircraft of other nations flying over international waters. They usually pass without incident. A US B-52 bomber was intercepted by Russian jets over the Baltic Sea in June during a planned exercise.
“There are a number of intercepts that take place on a regular basis,” the U.S. Army Defense Department confirmed a statement to CNN. “The vast majority are conducted in a safe manner.”
There are currently three U.S. aircraft carriers in the region. The USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt joined the USS Ronald Reagan just last week amid heightened tensions in region. The trio of powerful warships came before the president’s arrival.
President Trump’s Asia trip is expected to start Nov. 3 in a show of support for U.S. allies as North Korea continues to escalate threats of nuclear war. Trump will visit a U.S. military base in South Korea, along with Japan, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis took a trip to Asia ahead of President Trump, in which he visited the heavily-armed border between North and South Korea, NBC News reported. He stood alongside South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo and spoke with U.S. and South Korean troops. Mattis also visited the Philippines and Thailand.
After speaking with Mattis, South Korean President Moon Jae-in praised the “aggressive deployment” of U.S. strategic assets in the region as a deterrent to North Korean aggression. Moon also recently stated he would not pursue nuclear weapons for South Korea, but instead pursue an earlier plan for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, The Asian Age reported.