DRAMATIC video catches the cat-and-mouse moment US warplanes intercept two Russian anti-submarine bombers as they snoops on the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.
It came amid high tension between Moscow and Washington over Vladimir Putin’s massing of troops near Ukraine, along with allegations of cyber-hacking and election interference .
Two US Air Navy F-18 fighters were scrambled to intercept a pair oflong range Tupolev Tu-142 Bears as they neared the US carrier.
Bomber crew filmed the US jets flying close by over the Pacific, with the USS Ronald Reagan seen below.
Russian sources say the two Tu-142’s had been tailed by the Americans on a ten hour flight over the Pacific Ocean earlier this week.
"During some sections of the flight, the Russian aircraft were escorted by the US Navy’s F-18 deck-based fighters,” said a naval source.
The flight of the bombers "proceeded in strict compliance with international rules for the use of air space," said Russia’s Pacific Fleet.
The Tu-142s – known as Bear-Fs by Nato classification – covered some 5,000 miles on their mission, it said.
"The pilots practised flying over a featureless terrain, their coordination while operating the planes in the absence of radar assistance and flying in an offshore maritime zone," it added.
The Tu-142 is one of the largest such aircraft in the world, designed for operations against submarines.
The USS Ronald Reagan is based in Japan, where she will soon be joined by the HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Britain's new carrier, with British and American jets on board, is leading a flotilla of ships through Asian waters on its maiden deployment.
The fly-by comes after Putin appeared to cave into the West and pulled back tens of thousands of troops and heavy armour from the Ukraine border.
Nato allies feared he was planning an invasion to seize more territory following the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
As forces withdrew, Russia also out on a show of firepower with huge drills showing off its combat readiness.
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