U.S. Air Force (USAF) F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft, assigned to North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), intercepted two Russian Tu-95 “Bear” long-range strategic bombers near Alaska late Monday evening.
The Russian bombers were escorted by two Su-35 “Flanker-E” fighter aircraft. During the intercept, the F-22s were supported by E-3 Sentry AWACS airborne warning and control system aircraft and KC-135 Stratotanker tanker aircraft.
North American Aerospace Defense Command F-22 fighter aircraft, supported by E-3 airborne warning and control system and KC-135 refueler aircraft, intercepted two Russian Tu-95 bombers escorted by two Su-35 fighter aircraft late Monday evening. #WeHaveTheWatch @usairforce pic.twitter.com/bi6Eh3SxlW
— North American Aerospace Defense Command (@NORADCommand) October 20, 2020
NORAD said in a statement that it also positively identified a Russian A-50 “Mainstay” airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft supporting the intercepted aircraft which loitered within the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) for approx. 1.5 hours and came within 30 nautical miles of Alaskan shores.
The statement added that all Russian aircraft remained in international airspace and at no time entered U.S. or Canadian sovereign airspace.
“NORAD forces remain on alert 24/7/365 to respond to potential threats to Canada and the United States. The agility and readiness of our personnel ensures we are successful in addressing potential aerospace threats with the appropriate response at the right time,” said General Glen D. VanHerck, Commander of NORAD and the U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM).
Russian Ministry of Defence has also released a statement regarding the Tu-95 mission.
According to the Russian MoD statement, two Tu-95MS strategic missile carriers assigned to the long-range aviation unit of the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) performed a planned flight in airspace over the neutral waters of the Chukchi, Bering and Okhotsk seas, as well as the northern part of the Pacific Ocean. The flight duration was over 11 hours.
The Tu-95 mission was carried out from an airfield on the territory of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. The bombers were accompanied by two Su-35S fighter jets of the 11th Air Force and Air Defense Army and two MiG-31 “Foxhound” interceptor jets of the Russian Navy Pacific Fleet aviation.
The Russian MoD statement also confirmed the interception by the U.S. F-22 jets “at certain stages of the route”.
“All flights of Russian Aerospace Forces aircraft are performed in strict accordance with the International Airspace Rules,” the statement added.