Two Russian bombers were intercepted off the coast of Alaska recently — the first flight by the country’s bombers off the coast of Alaska since mid-May, according to North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
The Russian planes, two TU-95 “Bear” long-range bombers, were flying in the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), south of the Aleutian Islands, around noon Saturday when they were intercepted by two F-22 fighters.
“The two Russian TU-95 bomber aircraft were intercepted and monitored by the F-22s until the bombers left the ADIZ along the Aleutian Island chain heading west,” said the spokesperson. “At no time did the Russian bombers enter Canadian or United States sovereign airspace.
Citing operational security, NORAD said it would not disclose how close the Russian bombers were to American territory.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed this weekend’s intercept, said TASS, the Russian news agency.
“Tu-95 MS strategic long-range bombers of the Russian Aerospace Forces performed scheduled flights over the neutral waters of the Arctic Ocean, the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk,” the Defense ministry said in a statement to TASS. “At some stages of the route, the aircraft of Russia’s Aerospace Forces were escorted by two F-22 fighter jets of the US Air Force.”
Saturday’s flight was the second time this year that Russian aircraft have flown close to Alaska.
On May 11, two Russian TU-95 bombers and a TU-142 maritime surveillance plane were also intercepted by two F-22’s off the western coast of Alaska.
An ADIZ is an airspace over land or water that is monitored in the interest of national security. The American ADIZ off the coast of Alaska extends 200 miles from the coast into international airspace.
Unidentified aircraft are asked to identify themselves while transiting that zone. NORAD, which is a joint U.S.-Canadian military command, will send military aircraft towards unidentified aircraft that enter the ADIZ in order to “intercept” them.
Intercepts involve the visual identification of the aircraft and radio communications with the pilots.