On Thursday, two Russian Bear bombers entered Alaska’s Air Defense Zone and were escorted by a pair of Su-35 “Flanker” fighter jets, Fox News reported. According to U.S. officials speaking to Fox, a pair of U.S. Air Force F-22 stealth fighter jets intercepted the Russian formation. The F-22s were already flying a patrol approximately 50 miles southwest of Chariot, Alaska when the incident occurred.
“The addition of Russian SU-35 fighter jets alongside the long-range Bear bombers shows the Kremlin continues to showcase its long-range capability as it patrols the Alaskan coast,” L. Todd Wood, columnist for The Washington Times and former special operations pilot, told American Military News. “Though the patrols are routine, adding modern fighter aircraft is an attempt to show the Russian air force will attempt to protect the strike package if it comes to a conflict, adding another layer of complexity to US war planner dealing with a shortage of resources to face this emerging threat.”
Donald Trump’s military buildup can’t come soon enough,” Wood added.
According to Fox News, the Russian fighter jets were unarmed and remained in international airspace. It was the first time the U.S. Air Force has seen advanced Russian Su-35 fighter jets escort Cold War-era bombers in the region.
The incident comes just one day after President Donald Trump spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In April, Russian bombers flew near Alaska for four consecutive days. Thursday’s episode marks the fifth occurrence of Russian bombers flying near Alaska in recent weeks.