Two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were scrambled to intercept and escort two Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers off the coast of Alaska on Sept. 1, The Washington Free Beacon reported citing the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
“Two Alaskan-based NORAD F-22 fighters intercepted and visually identified two Tu-95 ‘Bear’ long-range bomber aircraft flying in the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone, south of the Aleutian Islands”, the report quoted Michael Kucharek, a spokesman for the U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and NORAD, as saying.
“However the two Russian Tu-95 bomber aircraft were intercepted by the F-22s until the bombers left the ADIZ along the Aleutian Island chain heading west,” he said. “At no time did the Russian bombers enter Canadian or United States sovereign airspace.”
Kucharek declined to specify the distance the bombers flew from the west coast of Alaska to protect operational security (OPSEC). The ADIZ extends approximately 200 miles off Alaska’s western coast.
The bombers were reportedly supported by at least one Il-78 “Midas” aerial refueling tanker aircraft, an indication the bombers traveled a long distance and required mid-flight refueling. No other details of the incident were disclosed.
According to the report, the intercept took place near the AN/FPS-108 Cobra Dane phased array radar system, located at the Eareckson Air Station on remote Shemya Island, that monitors Russian missile launches and aircraft flights.
This is the second time this year Russian bombers flew close to Alaska. In May, two Tu-95 bombers were intercepted off the coast of Alaska by two F-22s.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the incident Friday saying that its Tu-95MS ‘Bear’ strategic bombers performed routine flights over the Arctic Ocean, the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk and were escorted by US F-22 fighter jets at some stages, reported TASS news agency.
“Tu-95 MS strategic long-range bombers of the Russian Aerospace Forces performed scheduled flights over the neutral waters of the Arctic Ocean, the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. At some stages of the route, the aircraft of Russia’s Aerospace Forces were escorted by two F-22 fighter jets of the U.S. Air Force,” the ministry said in a statement.
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 and were put into serial production in 1981.
Tu-95 became the launch platform of the Raduga Kh-55 nuclear-capable long-range cruise missile, which has a maximum range of 1,841 miles.
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.