U.S. fighter jets intercept Russian aircraft west of Alaska

Two Russian Tu-95 long-range bombers accompanied by Su-35 fighter jets were intercepted by two U.S. F-22 fighter jets in international airspace west of Alaska on Sept. 11, 2018. (U.S. Air Force)
The North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) had to scramble two U.S. fighter jets to intercept two Russian strategic bombers in international airspace west of Alaska, NORAD officials said Wednesday.

Two NORAD F-22 “Raptor” fighter jets positively identified and intercepted two Russian Tu-95 “Bear” bombers at approximately 10 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, NORAD officials said.

The Russian bombers were accompanied by two Russian Su-35 “Flanker” fighter jets.

The Russian aircraft were intercepted after they entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which extends nearly 200 nautical miles (370 km) beyond the 12-mile (22 km) U.S. sovereign airspace said NORAD spokesman Maj. Andrew Hennessy.

An air identification zone is airspace over land or water where the identification, location and control of aircraft is performed in the interest of national security.

‘Professional and safe’ interaction

The Russian aircraft remained in international airspace and at no time did the aircraft enter U.S. or Canadian sovereign airspace, he said.

“All of the interaction between Russian and NORAD aircraft was professional and safe,” Hennessy said.

The Russian Ministry of Defence said in a press release that the flight of the two Tu-95MS strategic missile carriers of the long-range aviation of the Russian Air Force “completed scheduled flights over the neutral waters of the Barents, Chukchi, East Siberian seas and the Arctic Ocean during the Vostok 2018 maneuvers.”

The crews of the Tu-95MS aircraft also successfully practiced the air-to-air refuelling, the press release said.

A Russian Il-76 air tanker (top) demonstrates refuelling a Tu-95 bomber as they fly above Red Square during a Victory Day military parade in Moscow May 9, 2008. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/REUTERS/Pool)

It’s the second time this month that Russian aircraft have been intercepted in the Air Defence Identification Zone, according to NORAD.

On Sept. 1, two F-22 fighters intercepted Russian bombers flying in the ADIZ south of the Aleutian Islands, NORAD officials said.

Two Russian TU-95 bombers and a TU-142 maritime aircraft were also intercepted by two NORAD F-22s near the western coast of Alaska in international airspace on May 11.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada extends air defence monitoring zone to entire Canadian Arctic, Radio Canada International

Finland: Finland, Sweden and US building three-way defence ties, Yle News

Norway: Adding U.S. Marines in Norway creates instability, says Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia flexes its military muscles with Arctic component of Vostok 2018 war games, Radio Canada International

Sweden: Sweden to buy U.S.-made Patriot air defence systems, Radio Sweden

United States: Top U.S. military officials visit Alaska bases, Alaska Public Media

Levon Sevunts, Radio Canada International

Born and raised in Armenia, Levon started his journalistic career in 1990, covering wars and civil strife in the Caucasus and Central Asia. In 1992, after the government in Armenia shut down the TV program he was working for, Levon immigrated to Canada. He learned English and eventually went back to journalism, working first in print and then in broadcasting. Levon’s journalistic assignments have taken him from the High Arctic to Sahara and the killing fields of Darfur, from the streets of Montreal to the snow-capped mountaintops of Hindu Kush in Afghanistan. He says, “But best of all, I’ve been privileged to tell the stories of hundreds of people who’ve generously opened up their homes, refugee tents and their hearts to me.”

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