The U.S.-led North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said it detected, tracked and identified multiple Russian aircraft operating in U.S. and Canadian air defense identification zones on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on Sunday, according to a tweet posted on Monday.
“On Sept 11, NORAD detected, tracked and positively identified 2 Russian maritime patrol aircraft entering & operating in the Alaskan & Cdn Air Defense Identification Zones. The aircraft remained in international airspace, not entering sovereign airspace. #WeHaveTheWatch,” NORAD Command tweeted.
NORAD said in a statement that the “Russian activity in the North American ADIZ is not seen as a threat nor is the activity seen as provocative.”
NORAD spokeswoman and Canadian Armed Forces Capt. Alexandra Hejduk told Washington Times the command sent interceptors to escort the Russian planes out of the area. She would not elaborate on the response “in order to preserve operational security.”
“NORAD employs a layered defense network of satellites, ground-based radars, airborne radar and fighter aircraft to track and identify aircraft and inform appropriate actions,” the command said. “We remain ready to employ a number of response options in the defense of North America and arctic sovereignty.”
Last year, U.S. Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, commander of NORAD and Northern Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that in 2020, NORAD “responded to more Russian military flights off the coast of Alaska than we’ve seen in any year since the end of the Cold War.”
“We’re back in the peer competition,” he said. “Clearly, Russia is trying to reassert on a global stage their influence and their capabilities. That’s exactly what’s going on. It’s great power competition.”
“These Russian military operations include multiple flights of heavy bombers, anti-submarine aircraft, and intelligence collection platforms near Alaska,” he added. “These efforts show both Russia’s military reach and how they rehearse potential strikes on our homeland.”