Two Russian reconnaissance aircraft flew within one mile of the USS Ronald Reagan, prompting the aircraft carrier to scramble its jets, the US Navy 7th Fleet have announced.
The Tupolev Tu-142 aircraft flew as low as 500 feet Tuesday morning near the Ronald Reagan, which has been conducting scheduled manoeuvres with South Korean navy ships in international waters east of the Korean Peninsula.
The Tupolev Tu-142 is a maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft derived from the Tu-95 turboprop strategic bomber. The Tu-142 was designed by the Tupolev design bureau, and manufactured by the Kuibyshev Aviation and Taganrog Machinery Plants from 1968 to 1994. Formerly operated by the Soviet Navy and Ukrainian Air Force, the Tu-142 currently serves with the Russian and Indian Naval Air Arm.
The supercarrier launched four F/A-18 Super Hornets in response to the Russian advance. A ship escorting the carrier attempted to contact the two Russian aircraft as they withdrew but received no response.
This comes after the carrier was at the forefront of an exercise last week intended to bolster the joint combat readiness and interoperability of US and South Korean Naval forces.
The Ronald Reagan is a Nimitz class nuclear powered supercarrier. The ninth ship of her class, she is named in honour of former President Ronald Reagan.
The Nimitz class supercarriers are a class of ten nuclear powered aircraft carriers. The lead ship of the class is named for World War II United States Pacific Fleet commander Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. They are the largest warships built and in service, although they are being eclipsed by the upcoming Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carriers. They can carry an embarked carrier air wing consisting of up to around 90 aircraft, though typically only around 60 are deployed. In addition to their aircraft, the vessels carry short-range defensive weaponry for anti-aircraft warfare and missile defence.
The US carrier deployed to South Korea to join the South Korean Navy’s maritime parade last Friday. It is now back in its home port of Yokosuka, Japan, after wrapping up the joint exercise.