Moscow, Russia (RIA Novosti) Jul 16, 2010
The Russian air defense system is designed so that it responds to all aircraft approaching the state's airspace, a high ranking Defense Ministry source has said.
"That is perhaps its basic difference from the American system," the source said commenting on recent remarks by a senior U.S. military official.
Adm. James A. Winnefeld, Jr., head of the U.S.-Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), said in an interview Russia continued "to fly strategic nuclear bombers near U.S. and Canadian airspace because the Russian military is seeking to maintain the illusion of power."
He said jet interceptors are not ordered to intercept all the Russian bomber flights: "If we intercept every single flight that comes out in our direction, then we're really just feeding into their propaganda."
"So we intercept them when we feel like we ought to, and we have various criteria that we use for that, to include just rehearsing our own skills to be able to do that."
The Russian source dismissed Winnefeld's "illusion of power" remarks and said Russian strategic bombers continued to fly over the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic oceans for training purposes.
He stressed that bomber crew training was a long-standing, systematic practice in the Russian Air Force.
Commenting on Winnefeld's remarks that U.S. jets were not ordered to intercept all the Russian bomber flights, he said that was "their right."
Asked if the flights of nuclear-capable Tu-95 Bear bombers were continuing, Winnefeld said: "Every now and then, they'll do a flight. It's maybe not as frequent as it was a couple of years ago, but they are still out there from time to time."
According to Northcom figures, so far this year there have been five jet interceptions of Russian bombers near U.S. or Canadian airspace. Last year, there were 17, and 12 in 2008 and 18 in 2007. By contrast, between 1999 and 2006 there were only 11 encounters in the air with the Russian bombers, The Washington Times reported.
Source: RIA Novosti
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