A pair of Russian TU-95 Bear bombers, accompanied by two SU-35 fighter jet escorts, entered Alaska’s Air Defense Identification Zone on Wednesday night; marking the fifth time in less than a month that Russia has conducted such provocative air maneuvers.
The Russian formation of four military aircraft were quickly intercepted by two American F-22 Raptors that were already airborne conducting routine patrols approximately fifty miles southwest of Chariot, Alaska. According to a NORAD spokesman, the intercept took place at approximately 9:00PM Pacific time on Wednesday.
According to Defense officials, the Russian aircraft remained in international air space, but came within 50 miles of Point Hope, Alaska. This incident marks the very first time Russian bombers near Alaska have been escorted by Russia’s most advanced air-superiority fighter. The SU-35 Flanker-E is the pride of the Russian Air Force and is considered a fourth-generation fighter by the international community; making it easily a match for American F-15 and F-16 fighter platforms. Of course, it wasn’t either of those jets that intercepted them however, it was the more advanced American F-22 Raptors instead. According to reports, the SU-35 fighters were unarmed during the flight.
Later in the evening, another Russian aircraft, an A-50 Mainstay Surveillance plane, also entered the area, though it remained in international air space and was not intercepted by American jets.