Russian Provide Valuable Training For U.S. Navy
Lots of people are saying tension between the U.S. and Russia is on the increase, and that may be so. Still, it's nice that the Russians will still go out of their way to provide great training opportunities for U.S. forces:
The bombers were among four Russian Tupolev 95s launched from Ukrainka in the middle of the night, including one that Japanese officials say violated their country's airspace over an uninhabited island south of Tokyo.The pilot that flew near the carrier seems to have been especially eager to help American Sailors with some lookout quals. Since a Bear in wartime would never want to get very close to their target (but instead launch stand-off weapons and get the heck out of Dodge) it's clear that they weren't training for their own sake -- they were just trying to help out their American friends. Plus, giving the F/A-18 pilots an extended amount of time to practice getting into attack position against a slowly-moving target was very nice of the Russian.
U.S. officials tracked and monitored the bombers as two flew south along the Japanese coast, and two others flew farther east, coming closer to the Nimitz and the guided missile cruiser USS Princeton.
As the bombers got about 500 miles out from the U.S. ships, four F/A-18 fighters were launched from the Nimitz, the official said. The fighters intercepted the Russian bombers about 50 miles south of the Nimitz.
At least two U.S. F/A-18 Hornets trailed the bomber as it came in low over the Nimitz twice, while one or two of the other U.S. fighters followed the second bomber as it circled.
Remember when the Russian submarines used to come out and provide target services for our boats? I wish they'd start doing that again -- there's no better training than having a fire control solution locked onto a potential adversary while he has no clue that you're there.
Update 0722 13 Feb: Here's a picture of a Hornet escorting the Bear during the encounter:
Other pictures are here and here. I guess the articles can't say that the incident is "secret" anymore if the Navy website is publishing pictures of the exercise.