A spokesperson for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) confirmed this week that a fleet of Russian bombers set off alarms in the United States after coming within 50 miles of California’s Pacific coast.
Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for NORAD, told that a pair of Tu-95 Bear H aircraft maintained by Russia came close to US airspace during practice bombing while four of the planes were conducting bombing runs near Alaska. According to Nuclear Threat Initiative nonprofit organization, Russia has 29 Tu-95 MS6 Bear H6s and 30 Tu-95 MS16 Bear H16s, which are equipped to fire both traditional and nuclear payloads at targets from the air.
David told the Beacon that this week’s incident occurred on Monday afternoon and was caught quickly by radar systems that monitored American air defense zones. The radar spotted all four Russian aircraft, he said, and two F-22 fighter jets used by the US Air Force were then mobilized to intercept the bombers.
The US State Dept. reported last year that Russia may have an arsenal that contains as many as 1,400 operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads and 894 deployed and non-deployed launcher.