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General: Russian Military Flights Near Alaska Hit Post-Cold War High

by SOFREP News Mar 17, 2021
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General: Russian Military Flights Near Alaska Hit Post-Cold War High

The military command responsible for defending the U.S. and Canada from attack responded to more Russian military flights near Alaska last year than any year since the end of the Cold War, the four-star general leading the command said Tuesday.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, head of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), told the Senate Armed Services Committee in written testimony that “Russia continues to conduct frequent military operations in the approaches to North America.”

“Last year,” the general told lawmakers, “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.” These flights involved heavy bombers, anti-submarine aircraft, and intelligence assets.

VanHerck said that the Russian military flights near Alaska “show both Russia’s military reach and how they rehearse potential strikes on our homeland.”

The Russian military aircraft, which include Tu-160 and Tu-95 long-range bombers, Tu-142 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft, and A-50 early warning and control planes that are regularly accompanied by Su-35 fighters, are typically intercepted by U.S. Air Force F-22 RaptorsM assigned to NORAD, whenever they fly into the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone.

No Russian military aircraft has at any point breached U.S. or Canadian airspace, which extends out to 12 nautical miles from the U.S. coastline.

Russian long-range air patrols were fairly common during the Cold War but became less frequent in ITS aftermath. In recent years, these flights have again become frequent occurrences.

The U.S. military also conducts bomber flights near Russia, which have prompted the Russian military to scramble interceptor aircraft in response.

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