Russian bombers heading for US warship INTERCEPTED by fighter jets near North Korea

Two F/A-18 fighter jets scrambled to escort the Russian TU-95 bombers away from the warship on Sunday, US defence officials said.

Putin’s nuclear-capable “Bears” were stopped just 80 miles away from the vessel, the USS Ronald Reagan, in the Sea of Japan.

US President Donald Trump has sent three aircraft carriers – the USS Ronald Reagan, USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Nimitz – ahead of his visit to the region later this week.

The interception of the Russian bombers was considered to be “safe and professional” by US officials.

But the incident comes at a time of heightened tensions in the Pacific with the US, China, Russia and North Korea looking to assert themselves.

Russian bombers carried out the mission just days after the US flew a nuclear B-2 bomber over the Pacific Ocean.

The provocative flight – just off North Korea – was an apparent show of force likely designed to intimidate Kim Jong-un.

The US has admitted that North Korea is on the brink of launching the dreaded "Juche Bird” missile – a nuke fixed to an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

But the flight is likely to draw the attention of Russia and China, whose militaries are active in the region.

US interceptions of Russian aircraft – and vice versa – in the western Pacific and elsewhere are commonplace.

Typically, these flight interceptions happen without incident, but occasionally tense encounters cause friction between Russia and the US.

In June a US bomber flying over the Baltic Sea was intercepted by Russian fighter jets.

The manoeuvre was branded “unsafe” by US officials, who accused the Russian jet of flying “erratically” and too close to the US plane.

Tu-95s – dubbed by NATO as "Bears" – are four engined propellor aircraft designed for long-range strategic bombing runs.

The planes can carry up to 16.5 tons worth of bombs and has been is service since the height of the Cold War.

They can fly at 575mph at heights of up to 45,000ft – being crewed by seven men – and have nuclear bombs in their arsenal.

( Source )