Tokyo Express (flights)

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The Tokyo Express (東京急行, Tōkyō kyūkō) is a term for regular flights by Soviet (and later Russian) military aircraft past Japan. They sometimes involve violations of Japanese airspace and have often been intercepted by fighter aircraft of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

During the Cold War the flights tended to take place along the Sea of Japan side of the country. [1] [2] During the Cold War Tupolev Tu-16, Tupolev Tu-95 and Myasishchev M-4 aircraft were used. Some of them were transiting to or from Cam Ranh Base in southern Vietnam. The Soviet Union started using the base in 1979.

After the Cold War ended Russia dramatically reduced its flights and stopped using Cam Ranh base. However, from 2007 Russia re-started regular flights, which now often take place on the Pacific Ocean side of Japan. [3] [4] [5] In this second iteration, Tupolev Tu-22M, Tupolev Tu-95 and Tupolev Tu-142 aircraft are used. As of 2015 Russian aircraft have begun using Cam Ranh Base again, including for Il-78 tankers to support bomber flights in the Pacific. [6]

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  1. Soviet Bomber Crashes off Japanese Coast June 27, 1980 page 20 Colorado Springs Gazette Retrieved September 24, 2017
  2. Laird, Robbin Frederick & Hoffman, Erik P., Soviet Foreign Policy in a Changing World page 301 Retrieved September 24, 2017
  3. East Asian Strategic Review 2009 Chapter 6: Russia—Evolving into an Independent Strategic Player Retrieved September 24, 2017
  4. Burke, Matthew M & Sumida, Chiyomi Russia's Pacific activity: A show of force or something more? September 9, 2014 Stars and Stripes
  5. Thompson, Paul Squadron Histories - 303rd Squadron J-HangarSpace Retrieved September 24, 2017
  6. "U.S. asks Vietnam to stop helping Russian bomber flights". Reuters. 2015-03-11. Retrieved 2015-04-12.