North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) F-22 Raptor fighter jets successfully completed two intercepts of Russian bomber aircraft formations entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) last night.
This marks the second intercept of Russian bomber formations by NORAD F-22 jets in the past week.
The F-22s were supported by KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling tanker aircraft and E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft. The first formation of Russian aircraft consisted of two Tu-95MS “Bear-H” long-range strategic bombers, accompanied by two Su-35 “Flanker-E” fighter jets and was supported by an A-50 “Mainstay” airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. The second formation consisted of two Tu-95 bombers supported by an A-50.
According to NORAD, the Russian military aircraft came within 32 nautical miles of Alaskan shores; however, remained in international airspace and at no time did they enter United States sovereign airspace.
“For the eighth time this year, Russian military aircraft have penetrated our Canadian or Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zones and each and every time NORAD forces were ready to meet this challenge,” said General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, the NORAD Commander.
“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, NORAD constantly monitors the northern approaches to our nations and our operations make it clear that we will conduct homeland defense efforts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” he added.
The Russian Defense Ministry has earlier announced that four Russian Aerospace Forces Tu-95MS strategic bombers performed a planned flight over the “neutral waters” of the Chukchi, Bering and Okhotsk Seas and the northern part of the Pacific Ocean.
“Four Tu-95MS strategic bombers of Russian Aerospace Forces’s long-range aviation completed a scheduled flight in airspace over the neutral waters of the Chukchi, Bering and Okhotsk seas, as well as the North Pacific. Take-off was carried out from airfields in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug and Amur Region,” the ministry said.
According to the Ministry statement, the 11-hour mission was “carried out in strict accordance with the international rules for the use of airspace”.
This is the second such mission conducted by the Russian Tu-95MS bombers this past week. On June 10, four Tu-95MS bombers carried out air patrols over the “neutral waters” of the Chukchi, Bering and Okhotsk Seas and the North Pacific which led to the U.S. Air Force scrambling F-22 Raptors to intercept the bombers.
Tupolev Tu-95 (NATO reporting name: “Bear”) is a large, four-engine turboprop-powered strategic bomber and missile platform. First flown in 1952, the Tu-95 entered service with the Soviet Union in 1956 and is expected to serve the Russian Air Force until at least 2040.
Tu-95MS “Bear-H” is an upgraded variant of the Tu-95 bomber. This variant became the launch platform of the Raduga Kh-55 cruise missile and put into serial production in 1981.