Russian bombers have penetrated US airspace 16 times in the last TEN days. At the same time, Russia's Navy says it chased a submarine out of its 'boundary waters' in the Barents Sea, near the home of its powerful Northern Fleet.
This is a huge spike in the number of such events – which have already increased greatly since Russia invaded Crimea last February.
A spokesman for the Russian Navy was quoted by Interfax saying:
"An anti-submarine attack group and an Ilyushin Il-38 anti-submarine aircraft were sent to the said area to search and track the sub. The Northern Fleet anti-submarine forces' active maneuvers expelled the submarine from the Russian Federation's boundary waters."
Although the cat and mouse game between American and Russian submarines is nothing new, reporting on it by Russian officials is, and this event happened in the same area where another US surveillance asset ended its patrol by uncharacteristically running from Russian forces. So what exactly is Russia doing in that part of the world that has suddenly sent our surveillance assets running and why are they suddenly so interested in privacy?
The sheer number of Russian bombers and surveillance aircraft operating near American territory is clearly a sign of a new strategy being executed by Putin's more aggressive Russia. Whether these missions are being conducted to lure America into a false sense of familiarity with such operations, or they are being executed as a form of pure power projection, bordering on harassment, remains unclear.
Yet sixteen flights in ten days is an extreme number ever for Russia's stated goals of heightened readiness or for information gathering purposes.
Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who edits the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com