Air Force officials confirmed today that two Russian Tu-95 "Bear" strategic bombers were intercepted circling the island of Guam on Tuesday.
American radars tracked the bombers as they left Northeastern Russia. Japan, who was also tracking the flight, scrambled intercept fighters as the bombers approached. The Bears did not enter Japanese airspace.
According to military spokesperson Captain Kim Bender, two American F-15 Eagle fighters responded from Anderson Air Force Base and intercepted the two Bear bombers (http://fxn.ws/YxyLsE).
The American fighters are stationed with the 18th Fighter Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan. They were on Guam participating in the U.S. Pacific Command annual exercise North Cape designed to test the air defenses of U.S. interest in the region.
The interception occurred on Tuesday at about the same time President Obama was delivering his State of the Union address. Whether the timing was intentional or not is up to speculation as there has been no statement from Russian officials.
The Bear is capable of carrying a wide variety of weapons including nuclear bombs and cruise missiles. It has a top speed of approximately 400 mph and a operational range of about 4500 miles. The round-trip flight from their base in Russia to Guam would be about 7000 miles so the bombers would require mid-air refueling.
The venerable Tu-95 first entered service with Russian forces in 1956, but has been upgraded several times, to include making the aircraft capable of launching the nuclear cruise missiles.
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