U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor fighter jets assigned to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) intercepted two Russian Il-38 “May” maritime patrol aircraft entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone last night.
The F-22s were supported by KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling tanker aircraft from U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM).
According to NORAD, the Russian aircraft came within 50 miles of Unimak Island along the Aleutian island chain, spending approximately four hours in the ADIZ before exiting. The NORAD statement added that the Il-38s “remained in international airspace and at no time did the aircraft enter United States or Canadian sovereign airspace”.
“For the fifth time this month, NORAD has demonstrated our readiness and ability to defend the homeland by intercepting Russian military aircraft entering our ADIZ. The mission assurance measures we are taking to protect our people ensure we are meeting the challenges and operating through the COVID-19 environment to defend our nations, just as NORAD forces have for more than 60 years” said General O’Shaughnessy, NORAD Commander.
Last week, NORAD F-22 jets conducted intercepts of two Russian bomber aircraft formations entering the Alaskan ADIZ.
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.
This was following two similar intercepts by NORAD F-22 jets the previous week.
In this case, the first Russian bomber formation consisted of two Tu-95 bombers, accompanied by two Su-35s and an A-50, which came within 20 nautical miles of Alaskan shores. The second formation consisted of two Tu-95s supported by an A-50 aircraft and came within 32 nm of Alaskan shores.