The U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor fighter jets intercepted two pairs of Russian Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance aircraft entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on March 14.
The Raptors, assigned to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), were supported by KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling tanker aircraft and E-3 Sentry AWACS airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.
NORAD F-22s supported by KC-135 tankers and E-3 AWACS intercepted two pairs of Russian Tu-142s entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone this morning [ARCHIVE PHOTO, Mar 9, 2020] pic.twitter.com/xnVUVDiP47
— North American Aerospace Defense Command (@NORADCommand) March 14, 2020
According to NORAD, the Russian Tu-142 pairs entered the ADIZ from the west and north of Alaska respectively.
The western pair remained within the ADIZ for approximately 4 hours and loitered in the vicinity of the U.S. Navy Ice Exercise (ICEX) where they are conducting submarine exercises. The Tu-142s were escorted by F-22s the entire time.
The northern pair of Tu-142s spent approximately 15 minutes in the ADIZ and were also escorted by F-22s. Russian aircraft remained in international airspace in the Beaufort Sea coming within 45 nautical miles of the Alaskan coast and did not enter the United States or Canadian sovereign airspace at any time.
“This is the second and third time this week that incursions into our air defense identification zones were met and escorted by NORAD fighters,” said General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, NORAD Commander. “We continue to see repeated Russian military aviation activity in the Arctic and we will defend the U.S. and Canada against these threats emanating from our northern approaches.”
The incident came just a few days after the interception of two Russian Tu-142s entering the Alaskan ADIZ by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) F-22 Raptor and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CF-18 Hornet fighter jets assigned to NORAD.
NORAD is a U.S./Canada bi-national organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning for North America.
Aerospace warning includes the detection, validation, and warning of attack against North America whether by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles, through mutual support arrangements with other commands. Aerospace control includes ensuring air sovereignty and air defense of the airspace of Canada and the United States.
The renewal of the NORAD Agreement in May 2006 added a maritime warning mission, which entails a shared awareness and understanding of the activities conducted in U.S. and Canadian maritime approaches, maritime areas and internal waterways.
NORAD’s primary mission is to prevent air attacks against North America, safeguard the sovereign airspaces of the United States and Canada by responding to unknown, unwanted, and unauthorized air activity approaching and operating within these airspaces, and provide aerospace and maritime warning for North America.