SU-30SM, SU-35S, and SU-34 flying in formation - Sputnik International, 1920
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Watch Russian Bear Bombers Patrol Off Alaska Amid America’s Balloon Mania

© Photo : Russian Defense MinistryTu-95MS bomber on patrol in the Russian Far East, Wednesday, February 15, 2023. Screengrab of Russian Defense Ministry video.
Tu-95MS bomber on patrol in the Russian Far East, Wednesday, February 15, 2023. Screengrab of Russian Defense Ministry video. - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.02.2023
The US military was placed on heightened alert this month after the shootdown of a Chinese weather balloon off the coast of South Carolina. In the days that followed, US jets have been scrambled repeatedly to shoot down several more unidentified flying objects over American and Canadian airspace.
A pair of Tupolev Tu-95MS (NATO designation ‘Bear’) bombers completed a seven-hour patrol over the Chukchi Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk on Wednesday, the Russian military has indicated.
The nuclear-capable strategic bombers were escorted by Sukhoi Su-30 fighters from the Eastern Military District.
The Chukchi Sea borders on northern Alaska and the Russian Far Eastern region of Chukotka, while the Sea of Okhotsk is sandwiched between Russia’s Sakhalin Island and Kamchatka – the Russian peninsula that juts out into the northern Pacific Ocean.
Footage of the flight provided by the MoD shows Tu-95MSs and Su-30s taking off from an airbase, ascending to high altitudes, and then returning to base.
Wednesday’s flight followed a similar patrol by Tu-95MSs in the Bering Sea separating Russia and Alaska, and a flight over neutral waters in the Barents and Norwegian Seas by a pair of Tupolev Tu-160 White Swan bombers, on Tuesday. The latter flight is said to have lasted over 13 hours.
The MoD emphasized that “all flights by aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces are carried out in strict accordance with international rules for the use of airspace.”
A British tabloid touted Wednesday’s Bear flight a possible attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to “taunt” the US “in a show of strength to the West” amid the Chinese balloon-related paranoia which has gripped Washington and US media in recent weeks.
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The strategic bombers which make up the aerial prong of Russia’s nuclear triad operate regularly over neutral waters in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic Oceans, as well as the Black and Baltic Seas.
The turboprop Bear bomber is a veteran mainstay of Russian strategic and maritime patrol aviation, and has been around for well over 60 years. Despite its age, the Tu-95 is still deemed to pack enough of a deterrent punch to get the job done – namely, to release its conventional or nuclear payload, which can include guided or cruise missiles fired at standoff ranges well beyond any air defenses, and safely return to base. The Tu-95MS is an upgraded version of the Tu-95 designed to carry the Kh-101 subsonic air-launched cruise missile, which has an operational range of up to 5,500 km. The Russian military plans to continue operating Bears until at least 2040.
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