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US intercepts more Russian fighter jets and bombers off Alaska, 2nd day in a row

A USAF F-22 escorting a Russian Tu-95 bomber. (North American Aerospace Defense Command/Released)
May 22, 2019

U.S. fighter jets intercepted two Russian nuclear-capable bombers, on two separate occasions, and two Russian fighter jets off the coast of Alaska on Tuesday, the first of two consecutive days intercepting Russian aircraft this week.

North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) confirmed Wednesday morning that another intercept occurred off the Alaskan coast, again involving Russian fighter jets and bombers; it was the fifth intercept of Russian aircraft this year.

“Two pairs of F-22 fighter jets, each with an E-3 intercepted Tu-95 bombers Su-35 fighter jets entering the Alaskan ADIZ [Air Defense Identification Zone] May 21. The bombers entered the ADIZ and were intercepted by two F-22s, exited and then re-entered the Alaskan ADIZ accompanied by two Su-35 fighter jets,” NORAD tweeted.

The ADIZ stretches some 200 miles off the coast of western Alaska.

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“NORAD committed an additional two F-22s and E-3 to relieve the initial intercept aircraft. A KC-135 refueling aircraft supported both of NORAD’s intercept teams. The Russian aircraft remained in international airspace and at no time entered U.S. or Canadian sovereign airspace,” NORAD added.

“NORAD has intercepted an avg of approx. six to seven Russian sorties entering its ADIZ since Russia resumed long range aviation patrols in 2007. This is the 4th and 5th intercepts this year and the 2nd day in a row that Russia has flown into the Alaskan ADIZ #WeHaveTheWatch,” NORAD said.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command said in a statement that it “positively identified and intercepted a total of four Tupolev Tu-95 bombers and two Su-35 fighters entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on May 20,” CNN had reported Tuesday.

NORAD confirmed the first incident this week on Tuesday morning via Twitter.

“NORAD fighters intercepted Russian bombers+fighters entering Alaskan ADIZ May 20. 2x Tu-95s were intercepted by 2x F-22s; a second group of 2x Tu-95+2x Su-35 was intercepted later by 2 more F-22’s; NORAD E-3 provided overall surveillance. The aircraft remained in int’l airspace,” NORAD said in a tweet.

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NORAD Commander Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy said, “Our ability to deter and defeat threats to our citizens and vital infrastructure starts with detecting, tracking, and positively identifying aircraft our airspace. We are on alert 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”

The Russian Ministry of Defense also confirmed the incident.

“Four  strategic missile carriers of the Russian  made scheduled sorties over the neutral waters of the Chukotka, Bering and Okhotsk seas, as well as along the western coast of Alaska and the northern coast of the Aleutian Islands,” the MOD tweeted.

“At certain stages of the route, Russian aircraft were escorted by #F22 fighter jets of the #USAF. The total flight time exceeded 12 hours,” the ministry added.

U.S. military aircraft routinely monitor air traffic in the ADIZ and have repeatedly escorted Russian aircraft in the area before.