North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) F-22 Raptor fighter jets completed two intercepts of Russian bomber formations entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) early this morning.
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 Russian bomber formation consisted of two Tu-95 “Bear” long-range bombers, accompanied by two Su-35 “Flanker” fighter jets and an A-50 “Mainstay” airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, which came within 20 nautical miles of Alaskan shores. The second formation consisted of two Tu-95 bombers supported by an A-50 aircraft and came within 32 nm of Alaskan shores.
A statement from NORAD said that the Russian military aircraft remained in international airspace and at no time did they enter United States sovereign airspace.
“Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, NORAD’s remains ready and poised to defend the homelands 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” said General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, NORAD Commander. “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. I offer that level of detail to illustrate the point we will continue to execute our homeland defense missions with the same capability and capacity we always bring to the fight. That does not happen by luck. It happens because we taking deliberate – and at times, difficult – measures to ensure we are able to conduct our no-fail missions.”
Operation NOBLE EAGLE is the name given to all air sovereignty and air defense missions in North America. NORAD is a bi-national command focused on the defense of both the U.S. and Canada, the response to potential aerospace threats does not distinguish between the two nations, and draws on forces from both countries.