According to U.S. officials, a Russian Tu-22M Backfire bomber on Feb. 26 simulated firing air-launched cruise missiles at an Aegis ship deployed near Japan as part of U.S. missile defenses.
A second mock attack was conducted Feb. 27 against a ground-based missile defense site in Japan that officials did not identify further. The Pentagon operates an X-band missile defense radar on the northern tip of Japan that is designed to monitor North Korean missile launches and transmit the data to missile-firing ships.
The bomber targeting comes as Russia is building up forces in the Pacific by modernizing submarines and building a spy ship specifically for intelligence-gathering against U.S. missile defenses.
Officials said it was not clear why the Russians conducted the practice strikes. However, the simulations may indicate Moscow has targeted its offensive ballistic missiles on Japan or U.S. military bases in the region.
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