Russian Nuclear Bombers Buzz Guam
February 16, 2013 - 7:07 am
Time to reset the reset, which had been reset previously, only to be reset again because the first reset didn’t reset what it was supposed to reset.
Russian long range bombers armed with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles flew thousands of miles over open ocean just to say hello to our boys in Guam. Wasn’t that friendly of them?
The bomber incident was considered highly unusual. Russian strategic bombers are not known to have conducted such operations in the past into the south Pacific from bomber bases in the Russian Far East, which is thousands of miles away and over water.
John Bolton, former U.N. ambassador and former State Department international security undersecretary, said the Russian bomber flights appear to be part of an increasingly threatening strategic posture in response to Obama administration anti-nuclear policies. “Every day brings new evidence that Obama’s ideological obsession with dismantling our nuclear deterrent is dangerous,” Bolton said. “Our national security is in danger of slipping off the national agenda even as the threats grow.”
Defense officials said the bombers tracked over Guam were likely equipped with six Kh-55 or Kh-55SM cruise missiles that can hit targets up to 1,800 miles away with either a high-explosive warhead or a 200-kiloton nuclear warhead. The F-15s that intercepted the bombers were based at Kadena Air Base, Japan, and were deployed to Guam for the ongoing annual Exercise Guahan Shield 2013.
Two U.S. B-2 strategic bombers were deployed to Guam in late January and last fall advanced F-22 fighter bombers were temporarily stationed on the island. Three nuclear-powered attack submarines and the Global Hawk long-range drone also are based in Guam. About 200 Marines currently are training on the island. Earlier news reports stated that Japanese and Australian military jets joined U.S. jets in the Guam exercises.
Guam is one of the key strategic U.S. military bases under the Obama administration’s new “pivot” to Asia policy. As a result, it is a target of China and North Korea. Both have missiles capable of hitting the island, located about 1,700 miles east of the Philippines in the Mariana island chain. This week’s bomber flights are a sign the Russians are targeting the island as well, one defense official said.
Defense officials disclosed the incident to the Free Beacon and said the Russian bomber flights appeared to be a strategic message from Moscow timed to the president’s state of the union speech.
The president has recently backed Japan in its dispute with China over a chain of islands in the China Sea and said we would come to Japan’s assistance if China attacked. While it’s purely speculative to gauge Russian intent in this aggressive move, it may have been a reminder of Russian capabilities in a part of the world that the US sees as vital to its future interests and that, as Gertz points out, “[t]he bomber flights appear to signal Russian support for China in the dispute.”
Vladmir Putin has taken the measure of his opponent and discovered jello instead of fortitude. Expect more “friendly fly-bys” in the future.