- US F-22 Raptors were sent out to intercept Russian bombers near Alaska on Wednesday morning, North American Aerospace Defence Command said.
- The US fighters were supported by KC-135 Stratotankers and E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System planes.
- The NORAD force intercepted two Russian aircraft formations consisting of bombers, fighters, and early warning aircraft in the Alaskan Air Defence Identification Zone.
- One group came “within 20 nautical miles of Alaskan shores,” NORAD said.
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US Air Force fighters backed by support aircraft intercepted two pairs of Russian bombers in the Alaskan Air Defence Identification Zone on Wednesday. Two of the bombers came just 8 miles from US airspace.
The first Russian formation, which consisted of two Tu-95 bombers supported by two Su-35 fighter jets and an A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft, came “within 20 nautical miles of Alaskan shores,” North American Aerospace Defence Command said in a statement.
North American Aerospace Defense Command F-22 Raptors, supported by KC-135 Stratotankers and E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System, completed two intercepts of Russian Bomber formations entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone early this morning.
— North American Aerospace Defense Command (@NORADCommand) June 10, 2020
The second group of Russian aircraft, made up of two Tu-95 bombers and an A-50, stayed a little farther out, coming as close as 32 nautical miles.
Neither group ever entered US sovereign airspace, which extends 12 nautical miles from US shores. The ADIZ extends 200 nautical miles from the coastline.
NORAD sent US Air Force F-22 Raptors, advanced fifth-generation stealth fighters, supported by KC-135 Stratotankers and E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System planes to intercept the Russian aircraft.
NORAD “remains ready and poised to defend the homelands 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” NORAD commander Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy said in a statement.
“On several occasions, we have intercepted multiple Russian aircraft operating near Alaska and we will continue to do air patrols to protect the approaches to our nations,” he added.
As O’Shaughnessy mentioned, it is not uncommon for the USto intercept Russian aircraft in the Alaskan ADIZ, where Russian bombers, maritime patrol planes, and other aircraft routinely fly for training exercises, surveillance missions, and to probe US defences.
In other parts of the world, Russia occasionally sends out interceptor aircraft to intercept US planes. In late May, Russian fighters intercepted B-1B strategic bombers over the Black and Baltic seas.
The duty Air Defence Forces in the Western and Southern military districts promptly revealed the actions of B-1B strategic bombers of the US Air Forces over the neutral waters of the Black and Baltic seas and conducted their escort by Russian fighters. https://t.co/Ef8kWkZ7OM pic.twitter.com/pCXLyh6VUa
— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) May 29, 2020
While that particular intercept was characterised as safe and professional, that is not always the case with Russian intercepts.
In April and May, Russian fighter jets unsafely intercepted US Navy P-8A maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft three times over the Mediterranean Sea, with the Russian aircraft getting dangerously close to US planes.
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