Russian Bombers Fly Over Japan

Japan’s defense ministry says jets scrambled after 2 Russian Tu-95 bombers entered Japanese airspace near Okinoshima island

This handout picture taken by Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force on February 7, 2013 shows a Russian fighter jet SU27 encroaching on Japan’s territorial airspace. (AFP/DEFENSE MINISTRY VIA JIJI PRESS)

SOURCE

TOKYO: Japan scrambled fighter jets on Thursday after a pair of Russian bombers briefly intruded into the country’s airspace, officials said.

The two Tu-95 planes breached airspace near the isle of Okinoshima, off Fukuoka in southern Japan, for nearly two minutes shortly after midday (0300 GMT), a defence ministry spokesman said.

“A total of four F-2 planes from the Air Self-Defense Force scrambled against them,” the official said.

The Japanese foreign ministry said it filed a formal protest with the Russian embassy in Tokyo over the violation and urged them to investigate it.

In February, two Russian Su-27 fighters breached Japan’s airspace for just over a minute off the northern island of Hokkaido, Japanese officials said at that time, in what was reported to be the first such incident in five years.

Tokyo and Moscow never signed a peace treaty after World War II. Despite an important commercial relationship, they remain at loggerheads over the sovereignty of islands north of the Japanese main island of Hokkaido.

Japan is also at odds with China over the sovereignty of an island chain near Taiwan, in a particularly bitter dispute that has seen both sides scramble aircraft.

– AFP/gn

Boston Marathon explosions: Show us the evidence, says Toronto aunt of bombing suspects

Aunt of bombing suspects “knew them as angels” and does not believe they were responsible for the attack.
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By: News reporter, Published on Fri Apr 19 2013

In the lobby of her Etobicoke apartment building, the aunt of the two Boston bombing suspects shouted one word over and over as reporters questioned her about her now-infamous nephews — one dead, the other leading police on a chase Friday that effectively shut down Boston.

“Evidence,” Maret Tsarnaeva said repeatedly, her voice high with emotion. “I can’t lightly accept this kind of accusations without supporting evidence. Forgive me, but I cannot.”

Tsarnaeva, is aunt to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old who survived an overnight shootout and police chase, and his older brother Tamerlan, 26, who was killed in the shootout. The family is ethnically Chechen.

Tsarnaeva had not spoken to the men in about five years, but said she “knew them as angels” and does not believe they were responsible for the attack.

“I don’t know them in a way that they could be capable of this,” she said. She would not rule out the possibility that the photos showing the brothers at the scene had been staged.

“I have to question everything. That’s my nature.”

Many members of the family moved to the U.S. in the early 2000s. Dzhokhar arrived in 2002 with his parents, then Tamerlan came in 2003, with the suspects’ two sisters.

Tsarnaeva, who says she had been a lawyer in Chechnya, claims to have helped with their refugee paperwork.

Tamerlan had married what he described as “a good Christian girl” in the U.S., and had a 3-year-old child, she said.

Tsarnaeva could not say what either nephew was doing recently, but it was confirmed Friday that Tamerlan had studied accounting at a community college but did not finish. Dzhokhar is a student at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, numerous media reported Friday.

As a Chechen, Tsarnaeva says she is accustomed to being set up by the police, and does not believe that the photos or the reports from the FBI are true.

People should not just “swallow” everything the government is saying, she said.

“Being a Chechen … you always have to watch your back,” she said.

On Friday, Tsarnaeva called a hotline to ask for more evidence linking her nephews to the attack.

“I said please, take that into account. Give evidence. Give at least evidence to family members. Because I will never accuse my relatives, my nephews, without having evidence.”

The entire family is Muslim, though Tsarnaeva did not know how devout they were. In the last two years, however, Tamerlan had started praying five times a day, she said.

She described both nephews as smart and athletic, saying Tamerlan had been an amateur boxer. He competed in the National Golden Gloves competition in 2009.

Tsarnaeva said the boys’ father, her brother Anzor, was soft-hearted. He had recently moved to Russia.

“I don’t know how he’s taking this,” she said.

Other members of the suspects’ family were speaking out Friday; Tsarnaeva’s younger brother, Ruslan Tsarni, told reporters in Maryland that he was ashamed of his nephews, and that they were “losers” who couldn’t “settle themselves” in the U.S., according to numerous reports.

Responding to her brother’s words, Tsarnaeva said Ruslan Tsarni had been expecting a lot of the men, especially Tamerlan, who had been his favourite.

To her surviving nephew, Tsarnaeva said: “I just hope this is not true, because I don’t have evidence.”

“If that is you, you take the blame…. You did it for some purpose. Explain it, take some responsibility. What else can I say?”

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US Secretly Deploys B-1 Strategic Bombers, E-6 “Doomsday” Planes Near North Korea

Zero Hedge
April 6, 2013

First the US fanfared the placement of two F-22 Raptors in the Osan airbase of South Korea. Then it demonstratively launched a B-2 stealth bomber on a training mission over a South Korean gunnery range. Then it deployed an anti-ballistic missile defense system to Guam and positioned two guided-missile destroyers in the waters near Korea. And now, courtesy of the Aviationist, we learn that the Pentagon has escalated once more in an ongoing cat and mouse game with North Korea, of who blinks first, and dispatched several B-1 (“Bone”) Lancer strategic long-range bombers to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. What is different this time, however, is that unlike the previous very public and widely trumpeted reciprocal escalation steps, this particular deployment has been kept secret from the public (at least the broader public), “a fact that could be the sign that the U.S. is not only making symbolic moves (as the above mentioned ones), but it is preparing for the worst scenario: an attack on North Korea.”

How has the Aviationist learned this?

From his station in Amarillo, Texas, author, investigative journalist, technologies expert Steve Douglass heard something interesting. In a message he sent us on Facebook he said:

“Late last night I monitored “DARK flight of seven” on PRIME (311.000 MHZ STRATCOM PRIMARY) asking for current weather for UAM [airport code for Guam – Andersen Air Force Base]. On the frequency of 251.100 Mhz,DARK flight also was calling for “GASSR 11 and GASSR 12? (KC-135s)  for “Tanker drag to BAB [Beale AFB, California]“.

“Dark” is the standard radio callsign for the 7th Bomb Wing’s B-1s based at Dyess AFB, near Abilene, Texas.

Even if U.S. bombers routinely deploy to Guam (where at least two B-2s are reportedly already based), the fact that seven “Bones” were apparently moving together is something a bit unusual, even if they were not going to Andersen AFB (they might need the weather report for UAM because it was an alternate airfield or simply a stopover on their way to somewhere else).

Actually, it’s also weird that some many big bombers were flying together (as the “flight of seven” heard by Douglass seems to suggest) since a standard ferry flight of multiple planes would normally see the aircraft move individually. And, another strange thing is that the pilot talked about their destination in the clear: if they wanted it to be secret, they would speak on secure radios.

Nevertheless, this might have been a non-standard deployment; a move ordered hours after U.S. satellites and spyplanes from South Korea and Japan had spotted North Korean missiles being readied for launch.

What is even more curious is that instead of merely serving as very expensive deterrence props, the squadron has a very offensive role, and is preparing for attack:

Earlier [Douglass] had intercepted an interesting communication off a military satellite in which an Ellsworth AFB’s B-1B, callsign “Slam 1?, was training to hit a “missile facility” in Snyder, Texas.

A practice run for a mission in the DPRK with a school bus depot standing in for the real thing?

Maybe.

American B-1 bomber pilots have reportedly shifted their training programs, focusing on in East Asia, more than Afghanistan and the Middle East. And, above all, any training mission has many similarities with actual sorties that would be flown against a real enemy in combat.

Anyway, Douglass has recorded an audio snippet of the exercise (available here). Based on the coordinates for Snyder, Texas here‘s the target on Google Maps.

Finally, and most disturbing, is that another aircraft also in the process of deployment is none other than the E-6 Mercury “Doomsday” plane, which are among the pinnacle in US Airforce nuclear war preparedness, tasked with “providing command and control of U.S. nuclear forces should ground-based control become inoperable” and whose core functions include conveying instructions from the National Command Authority to fleet ballistic missile submarines and also to further command post capabilities and control of land-based missiles and nuclear-armed bombers.

You can read more about the military air activity recently monitored by Steve Douglass in an extremely interesting article he posted on his blog that not only summarize the contents of the messages he sent to The Aviationist, but provides some more details about the alleged overseas deployment of E-6 Mercury “doomsday” planes from Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.

Perhaps to Kim Jong-un the military escalation to nuclear war is only one big joke, but to the US it is increasingly appearing very serious. And perhaps this is precisely what the Pentagon wanted all along?

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Bear Bombers Over Guam

 

Russian nuclear bombers circle Guam

 

Russian Tu-95 Bear long rang bomber aircraft / AP

Two Russian nuclear-armed bombers circled the western Pacific island of Guam this week in the latest sign of Moscow’s growing strategic assertiveness toward the United States.

The Russian Tu-95 Bear-H strategic bombers were equipped with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and were followed by U.S. jets as they circumnavigated Guam on Feb. 12 local time—hours before President Barack Obama’s state of the union address.

Air Force Capt. Kim Bender, a spokeswoman for the Pacific Air Force in Hawaii, confirmed the incident to the Washington Free Beacon and said Air Force F-15 jets based on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, “scrambled and responded to the aircraft.”

“The Tu-95s were intercepted and left the area in a northbound direction. No further actions occurred,” she said. Bender said no other details would be released “for operational security reasons.”

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.

Guam also plays a key role in the Pentagon’s semi-secret strategy called the Air-Sea Battle Concept designed to counter what the Pentagon calls China’s anti-access and area denial weapons—precision guided missiles, submarines, anti-satellite weapons, and other special warfighting capabilities designed to prevent the U.S. military from defending allies or keeping sea lanes open in the region.

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.

“They were sending a message to Washington during the state of the union speech,” one official said.

The bomber flights also coincided with growing tensions between China and Japan over the Senkaku islands. A Chinese warship recently increased tensions between Beijing and Tokyo by using targeting radar against a Japanese warship.

The U.S. military has said it would defend Japan in any military confrontation with China over the Senkakus. The bomber flights appear to signal Russian support for China in the dispute.

Meanwhile, Obama on Wednesday telephoned Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to reiterate U.S. nuclear assurances to its ally following North Korea’s third detonation of an underground nuclear device.

A White House statement said the president told Abe, who visits Washington next week, that the United States “remains steadfast in its defense commitments to Japan, including the extended deterrence offered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella.”

“It shows that the Russians, like the Chinese, are not just going to sit idly by and watch the United States ‘pivot’ or ‘rebalance’ its forces toward Asia,” said former State Department security official Mark Groombridge.

“One could argue the Russians were poking a bit of fun at the Obama Administration, seeing how they flew these long-range bombers close to Guam on the same day as the state of the union address,” he said.

“But the broader implications are more profound,” said Groombridge, now with the private strategic intelligence firm LIGNET. “The Russians are clearly sending a signal that they consider the Pacific an area of vital national strategic interest and that they still have at least some power projection capabilities to counterbalance against any possible increase in U.S. military assets in the region.”

Airspace violations by Russian Su-27 jets triggered intercepts by Japanese fighters near Japan’s Hokkaido Island last week. The Feb. 7. incident prompted protests from Tokyo and took place near disputed territory claimed by both countries since the end of World War II.

The Russian air incursion around Guam was the third threatening strategic bomber incident since June. On July 4th, two Bear H’s operated at the closest point to the United States that a Russian bomber has flown since the Soviet Union routinely conducted such flights.

The July bomber flights near California followed an earlier incident in June when two Bear H’s ran up against the air defense zone near Alaska as part of large-scale strategic exercises that Moscow said involved simulated attacks on U.S. missile defense bases. The Pentagon operates missile defense bases in Alaska and California.

Those flights triggered the scrambling of U.S. and Canadian interceptor jets as well.

The bomber flights near Alaska violated a provision of the 2010 New START arms treaty that requires advance notification of exercises involving strategic nuclear bombers.

Military spokesmen sought to play down the June and July incidents as non-threatening, apparently reflecting the Obama administration’s conciliatory “reset” policy toward Russia that seeks better relations by tamping down criticism of Moscow, despite growing anti-U.S. sentiments and policies from the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey questioned his Russian counterpart, Gen. Nikolai Makarov, during a meeting at the Pentagon July 12th.

The latest Russian nuclear saber rattling through bomber flights comes as the Obama administration is planning a new round of strategic arms reduction talks with Russia. State Department arms official Rose Gottemoeller was recently in Moscow for arms discussions.

The president was expected to announce plans to cut U.S. nuclear forces by an additional one-third in a new round of arms reduction efforts with Moscow.

However, the president did not announce the plans and said only during his state of the union speech that he plans further arms cuts.

“Building Guam as a strategic hub has played a critical role in balancing U.S. security interests in responding to and cooperating with China as well as in shaping China’s perceptions and conduct,” wrote Government Accountability Office analyst Shirley A. Kan in a September 2012 report.

“Since 2000, the U.S. military has been building up forward-deployed forces on the westernmost U.S. territory of Guam to increase U.S. presence, deterrence, and power projection for potential responses to crises and disasters, counterterrorism, and contingencies in support of South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, or elsewhere in Asia.”

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