Russian jets 'sink' U.S. warship

MOSCOW, NOV. 15. Russian jets twice ``sank'' a U.S. aircraft carrier in simulated air attacks recently by overflying it completely undetected by its radars.

The incidents took place on Oct. 17 and Nov. 9 during U.S.- Japanese naval exercises in the Sea of Japan. Each time, two Sukhoi fighter jets flew over the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, evading its radars.

General Anatoly Kornukov, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Forces, confirmed today that two Russian reconnaissance jets, SU- 24MR, ``successfully penetrated the air defences of a U.S. aircraft carrier force led by the Kitty Hawk.''

This means that in wartime, the aircraft carrier would have been destroyed, experts said. General Kornukov said the Russian pilots had flown low over the Kitty Hawk and taken closeup photos of the aircraft carrier.

``The appearance of our jets took Americans by surprise,'' the Russian air chief told the Interfax news agency. ``Pictures clearly showed panic on board Kitty Hawk.'' Normally, foreign planes approaching U.S. warships are warned to change course or forced by aircraft carrier-based jets to alter course.

The two Russian flyovers were all the more embarrassing to the U.S. military since they took place during exercises that involved dozens of American and Japanese warships.

The Russian air chief said Russian jets did an ``impressive'' job and their crews would be given military awards. He insisted it was ``a planned reconnaissance mission,'' that Russian jets carry out on a regular basis.

However, the Izvestia daily said the last time a similar operation made headlines was in 1970, when a Soviet reconnaissance jet, TU-16R, flew low over a U.S. aircraft carrier. The crew of the reconnaissance plane was later awarded the top Soviet award, the Lenin Order, while all senior officers of the U.S. aircraft carrier lost their jobs or were demoted, the paper said.