US Navy F/A-18 fighter jets were dispatched from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and escorted two Russian TU-95 bombers that were approaching the ship on Sunday, according to two US defence officials.
The interaction — which occurred as the Russian bombers flew about 80 miles from the US carrier — was deemed safe and professional, the officials said, and the Russian aircraft proceeded without incident.
The USS Ronald Reagan was operating in the Sea of Japan/ East Sea at the time of the interaction. Three US carriers — USS Ronald Reagan, USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Nimitz — have been operating in the US Navy’s 7th Fleet area of operations, which covers the eastern Indian and western Pacific oceans, in recent days. The Roosevelt and Nimitz joined the Reagan, which is based in Japan, in the region last week.
Added US military presence is almost certainly meant as a message to North Korea but also sends a signal to Russia and China as both nations attempt to expand their own footholds in the region.