A U.S. military official says that one Russian Tupolev 95 flew directly over the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz twice, at a low altitude of about 2,000 feet, while another bomber circled about 58 miles out. The official was speaking on condition of anonymity because the reports on the flights were classified as secret.
The Saturday incident, which never escalated beyond the flyover, comes amid heightened tensions between the United States and Russia over U.S. plans for a missile defense system based in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Such Russian bomber flights were common during the Cold War, but have been rare since.
The bombers were among four Russian Tupolev 95s launched from Ukrainka in the middle of the night, including one that Japanese officials say violated their country's airspace over an uninhabited island south of Tokyo.
U.S. officials tracked and monitored the bombers as two flew south along the Japanese coast, and two others flew farther east, coming closer to the Nimitz and the guided missile cruiser USS Princeton.
As the bombers got about 500 miles out from the U.S. ships, four F/A- 18 fighters were launched from the Nimitz, the official said. The fighters intercepted the Russian bombers about 50 miles south of the Nimitz.
At least two U.S. F/A-18 Hornets trailed the bomber as it came in low over the Nimitz twice, while one or two of the other U.S. fighters followed the second bomber as it circled. .....
"The great weapon they have is persistence and patience, and the one weakness that we have is the tendency to lose patience and become complacent," Chertoff tells WTOP.
"It strikes me as hard to accept that anybody would believe the threat is over. There is nothing these terrorists are doing or saying that could lead a reasonable person to believe that they have somehow lost interest. Our biggest challenge is making sure we do not drop our guard because time passes." ......
The Army's multibillion-dollar modernization program, the Future Combat System, faces serious challenge this year.
A high-tech series of air and ground vehicles linked by a wireless network, FCS has faced criticism before for being expensive and complicated. Lawmakers have previously been quick to cut funding from the program. But senior defense officials acknowledge that this year the system is facing real trouble.
"The program is really in jeopardy, and I think it's on the ropes," says one senior officer, who wished to speak anonymously and only on background because of how sensitive the issue has become.
The fiscal 2009 budget released last week included $3.6 billion for FCS, continuing a program now thought to cost $120 billion by completion....
Academic researchers and military docs are developing virtual reality simulators with the hope of treating PTSD by exposing veterans to video game-like recreations of the kind of horrors they experienced in the war.....
Wage psychological warfare by spreading disinformation, delivering threats to instill fear and helplessness, and disseminating horrific images. For example, the grisly murder of Daniel Pearl was videotaped by his captors and posted on several terrorist Web sites.
Create publicity and spread propaganda."