Russian-bomber flights alarm NORAD

Frequent flying by Russian strategic bombers near American airspace — drawing U.S. fighter jets — has military officials at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs on guard and angling for greater openness and cooperation. While odds are low that these increasing Russian forays will cause a catastrophe, “there’s more of a risk of something accidental happening,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said Monday after meeting here with homeland defense commanders.

“We will clearly watch this evolution,” Mullen said of the Russian flights — not detected in such numbers since the Cold War. “We’ve got good military-to-military relations with the Russians. My sense is there’s no strategic intent to threaten the United States.”

To prevent problems, the Colorado-based North American Aerospace Defense and Northern commands initiated joint exercises with Russian counterparts here and in Alaska — a return to Cold War-era efforts to manage tensions.

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