A pair of U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets intercepted two Russian Tu-95 Bear nuclear-capable strategic bombers off the coast of Alaska on Friday morning.
According to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the Russian long-range bombers flew into the U.S. Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which extends approximately 200 miles off Alaska’s western coast. This Saturday marks 60th birthday for NORAD.
“At approximately 10 a.m. ET, two Alaskan-based NORAD F-22 fighters intercepted and visually identified two Russian TU-95 Bear long-range bomber aircraft flying in the Air Defense Identification Zone around the western coast of Alaska, north of the Aleutian Islands,” NORAD and USNORTHCOM spokesman Canadian Army Maj. Andrew Hennessy said in a statement.
The Russian aircraft were “intercepted and monitored by the F-22s until the bombers left the ADIZ along the Aleutian Island chain heading west,” and never entered US airspace, according to the statement.
This is the first time in a year Russian bombers flew this close to U.S. The last such intercept of Russian aircraft by U.S. jets took place on May 3, 2017.
Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation, single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed by Lockheed Martin for the United States Air Force (USAF).
The aircraft was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but also has ground attack, electronic warfare (EW), and signal intelligence (SIGINT) capabilities.
A final procurement tally of 187 operational production aircraft was established in 2009, and the last F-22 was delivered to the USAF in 2012.
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 strategic bombers are based on the Tu-142 (maritime patrol variant of Tu-95) airframe. This variant became the launch platform of the Raduga Kh-55 cruise missile and put into serial production in 1981.
All Tu-95s now in Russian service are the Tu-95MS variant (48 Tu-95MS and 12 Tu-95MSM), built in the 1980s and 1990s.