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US fighter jets intercept Russian warplanes near Alaska for 5th time in 2 weeks

NORAD F-22s, CF-18s, supported by KC-135 Stratotanker and E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft, intercepted two Russian Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance aircraft entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone on Monday, March 9th. (NORAD photo/Released)
June 25, 2020

U.S. planes intercepted another group of Russian warplanes near Alaska, marking the fifth intercept in the past three weeks out of eight total this year.

North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) F-22s and a U.S. KC-135 Stratotanker intercepted two Russian IL-38 maritime patrol aircraft in the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) within 50 miles of Alaskan territory.

The Russian warplanes remained in the ADIZ for four hours, though they remained in international airspace.

“The IL-38s remained in international airspace and at no time did the aircraft enter United States or Canadian sovereign airspace,” NORAD said in a statement.

The intercept continues a pattern of increased Russian air activity near Alaska. Out of nine intercepts of Russian warplanes near Alaska so far in 2020, five of them have occurred in the last three weeks alone.

“For the fifth time this month, NORAD has demonstrated our readiness and ability to defend the homeland by intercepting Russian military aircraft entering our ADIZ,” said Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, NORAD Commander.

“The mission assurance measures we are taking to protect our people ensure we are meeting the challenges and operating through the COVID-19 environment to defend our nations, just as NORAD forces have for more than 60 years,” O’Shaughnessy added.

Last week, U.S. F-22 Raptors along with a KC-135 Stratotanker and E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft intercepted Russian bombers and fighter jets in two separate intercepts on June 16. The formations consisted of Tu-95 bombers, Su-35 fighter jets and an A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft.

The week before, U.S. F-22 Raptors also intercepted two other identical Russian bomber formations.