- US Air Force F-22 stealth fighter jets intercepted Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers near Alaska on Saturday.
- Russia is set to hold massive war games next week said to include nuclear simulations.
- Alaska would represent a likely first target in a nuclear war with the US.
- The Russian bombers left peacefully and didn’t cross into US airspace, but incursions like this have become frequent around the world.
US Air Force F-22 stealth fighter jets intercepted two Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers near Alaska on Saturday, Russia’s Ministry of Defence confirmed.
The incident, first reported by The Washington Free Beacon on Thursday, unfolded outside US sovereign airspace ahead of Russia’s biggest military exercise in modern history.
“Two Alaskan-based NORAD F-22 fighters intercepted and visually identified two Tu-95 ‘Bear’ long-range bomber aircraft flying in the Alaskan Air Defence Identification Zone, south of the Aleutian Islands,” Michael Kucharek, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defence Command, or NORAD, told The Free Beacon.
“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,” Kucharek continued, referring to the air defence and identification zone the US maintains around its borders.
But while the incident resolved peacefully, a defence official told The Free Beacon that the Russian bombers might have been practicing for a cruise-missile strike on US missile-defence sites and radars in Alaska.
Alaska, the nearest US state to Russia, contains some of the US’s most advanced radar and missile-defence installations, which function as the eyes and ears of much of the US military’s strategic assets. If war were to break out between the US and Russia, those sites in Alaska would represent likely first targets.
Practicing strikes on key US targets fits roughly with the stated goals of Russia’s massive military exercise, which is set to take place in the country’s eastern region next week. Earlier reporting has suggested that Russia and China, which is joining parts of the exercise, would simulate nuclear war.
Additionally, the Russian bombers may have been trying to test the US’s response time.
Over the Mediterranean, where Russia and its ally Syria have been laying siege to Idlib, Syria’s last rebel stronghold, long-range planes have practiced refuelling and extending their reach, Russian media reported.
The Tu-95 is a propeller-driven, Cold War-era bomber that has frequently been intercepted around Alaska and elsewhere in recent years. The F-22 is the world’s most advanced combat jet and one of the stealthiest planes in existence.
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