Flights testing one another’s air defenses was a popular pastime in the NATO and Soviet Union air forces during the Cold War, and has continued since, albeit at a much diminished rate. Still, such flights happen from time to time, and are usually sparsely reported.
Air Force commander for Pacific Command Gen. Herbert ‘Hawk’ Carlisle is making a lot of hay about the recent Russian flights in the Pacific, concluding that anything that happens concurrently with the situation in the Ukraine must clearly be a consequence of the Ukraine.
Speaking to a think tank in DC, Gen. Carlisle spoke in dramatic tones of Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers “circumnavigating” the tiny island of Guam and even coming within reach of the California coast, concluding “what’s going on in Ukraine and Crimea is a challenge for us in Asia Pacific as well as Europe.”
A similar story of the aging Tu-95 prop planes making flights off the coast of Scotland was reported late last month, with similar spin about a “new Cold War.” The multiple flights in 2013 never got such publicity, though none happened to coincide with rising anti-Russia sentiment.