Expect the Russians to Keep Buzzing American Navy Ships

Cold War-era tactics resurface at sea, but this time, Moscow’s ultimate intentions are unknown.

In the opening dogfight of “Top Gun,” a sailor stares at a radar screen, nervously calling out the distance of fictitious MiG-28 fighter jets challenging Tom Cruise in his F-14 Tomcat. His commander watches the foreign aircraft edge closer to his carrier, and finally barks, “250 miles — get ’em outta here.”

A similar scene likely unfolded Tuesday as two Russian Tupolev Tu-142s approached the USS Ronald Reagan in international waters near the Korean peninsula. The carrier launched four armed F/A-18 Super Hornets to intercept and escort the maritime patrol aircraft, variants of the venerable Bear bomber. Still, the Russian planes pressed on, eventually passing within one mile of the U.S. carrier. Continue reading