Dancing with the BearJust before President Obama gave his State of the Union address two Russian TU-95 "Bear" Strategic Bombers were intercepted circling Guam. The bombers, capable of carrying six KH-55 nuclear cruise missiles, were intercepted by F-15 aircraft launched from Anderson AFB on Guam.
Old HatTo an old cold warrior, ten years in early warning before the wall came down, this stuff is old hat. We used to routinely spar with the Soviet Union, poking and prodding at the corners and edges of each others airspace. In terms of recent history, this is somewhat unusual, if not unprecedented.
In June of last year Russian bombers entered what's defined as the Alaskan Air Defense Zone in violation of the 2010 New START treaty. This was followed up with Russian bombers off the coast of California on the 4th of July.
It's Political, not MilitaryIncidents like this while of military training value are more of a political message than anything else. It is not the act but the timing of it that's important.
Perhaps, a friendly reminder to Obama of his remark to Medvedev caught on an open mic that "after my election I have more flexibility" at a meeting between the two in Seoul discussing missile defense.