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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Air Force Flexes Its Muscles with Exercise Over Pacific

Russian bombers have flown to the Pacific island of Guam for the first time since the Cold War during an Air Force exercise intended to show the nation's resurgent military power, a top general said Thursday.

Air Force Major General Pavel Androsov said two Tu-95 bombers reached Guam, home to a large U.S. military base, as part of an exercise this week.

Their crews smiled at pilots of U.S. fighters scrambled to intercept them, he said at a news conference.

"Whenever we saw U.S. planes during our flights over the ocean, we greeted them," Androsov said. "On Wednesday, we renewed the tradition when our young pilots flew by Guam in two planes. We exchanged smiles with our counterparts, who flew up from a U.S. carrier and returned home."

The sortie by the two turboprop bombers, from a base near Blagoveshchensk in the Far East, lasted 13 hours, Androsov said. The Tu-95, codenamed "Bear" by NATO, is a Cold War icon and may stay in service until 2040.

The flight to Guam was part of a three-day Air Force exercise during which strategic bombers made 40 sorties and launched eight cruise missiles, said Androsov, who commands the country's long-range bomber force.

During the Cold War, Soviet bombers routinely flew far over the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans -- the areas from where they would launch their nuclear-tipped cruise missiles at the United States in case of war.

The military has intensified Air Force exercises, sending strategic bombers to areas off Norway and Iceland, as well as Russia's northeast corner, across the Bering Strait from Alaska. (AP, Reuters)