U.S. Air Force fighter jets have intercepted Russian nuclear-capable bombers and other warplanes a total of eight times in 2020 alone, with four of those intercepts taking place just one week in June.
Most of these encounters have been caught on video.
On June 16, U.S. F-22 Raptors, along with a KC-135 Stratotanker and E-3 Airborne Warning and Control aircraft, intercepted a formation of two Tu-95 nuclear-capable bombers, two Su-35 fighter jets, and an A-50 warning and control aircraft. A second intercepted formation included two Tu-95 bombers and one A-50.
The Russian Defense Ministry posted a video online of their warplanes taking the planned flight and being intercepted by the U.S. fighter jets.
On June 10, U.S. F-22 Raptor fighter jets intercepted two Russian bomber formations, comprised of Russian Tu-95 bombers, Su-35 fighter jets, and A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft, just 30 miles from Alaska.
The Russian Defense Ministry had posted a video of their bombers taking off and later being intercepted.
On April 8, U.S. F-22 fighter jets, along with KC-135 Stratotankers and E-3 AWACS aircraft, intercepted two Russian IL-38 maritime patrol aircraft in the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone. A video was not released for that encounter, however.
On March 9, F-22 fighter jets intercepted two Russian Tu-142 reconnaissance planes who had entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone and remained there for four hours before leaving.
Though the Russian aircraft ventured close, NORAD said they did not enter U.S. or Canadian airspace at any point.
NORAD posted a video showing that intercept.
Following the March and April intercepts, NORAD commander Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy said he believes the Russian aircraft are testing the U.S. defenses for vulnerabilities, and attempting to assess how the U.S. responds.
“What we do see is, I think, a continuous effort for them,” he said in a Pentagon press briefing. “It’s a continued effort on multiple fronts to potentially test for any vulnerabilities.