SAN FRANCISCO, June 12 (UPI) -- Four Russian strategic bombers were too close for the U.S. Air Force's comfort when they flew within 50 miles of the California coast after conducting practice bombing runs near Alaska Monday.
Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Norad spokesman, told the Washington Free Beacon that four Bear H bombers approached the U.S. northern air defense zone at around 4:30 p.m. Monday. In response, two U.S. Air Force F-22 jets were sent to intercept the jets. After tracking the Bears, two of the four turned westward, presumably toward their base in Anadyr. The two remaining entered U.S. defense airspace at approximately 9:30 p.m. and flew within 50 miles of the coast before turning and heading back to base.
"They typically do long range aviation training in the summer and it is not unusual for them to be more active during this time," said Davis. "We assess this was part of training. And they did not enter territorial airspace."
This is seen by many as the latest in a show of strength from Russia as tensions with the U.S. escalate over the annexation of Crimea.
"Putin is doing this specifically to try to taunt the U.S. and exercise, at least in the reported world, some sort of saber-rattling, muscle-flexing kind of nonsense. Truth of the matter is we would have squashed either one of those [bombers] like baby seals," said Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. "It's a provocation and it's unnecessary. But it fits in with [Putin's] macho kind of saber-rattling."
This is the second time Russian jets have gotten close to the U.S. coast since the Cold War.