Days after Russian bombers were spotted off the coast of Alaska twice in a matter of hours, Russian bombers were intercepted two additional times in the same region on Wednesday and Thursday.
The first time Russian bombers were intercepted near Alaska this week occurred on Monday evening, when two Russian TU-95 Bear bombers were intercepted by American F-22 fighters as they entered the Alaskan air defense identification zone. The interaction between Russia’s planes and the American F-22s was characterized as “professional” by defense officials, as the Americans escorted the Russians without engaging in any cockpit to cockpit communications for approximately twelve minutes before the bombers changed course and headed back for Russia.
Just hours later, a TU-95 bomber was once again spotted entering Alaska’s air defense zone, this time it was intercepted by an American E-3 surveillance plane only about forty-one miles off the Alaskan coast. Technically speaking, American airspace extends only twelve miles from the coastline, meaning the Russian bombers did not violate it, but many would still consider forty miles “a little close for comfort.”
The two most recent sightings occurred on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. On Wednesday night, two Russian spy planes, Ilyushin IL-38s, were tracked flying near the Aleutian Islands in the Bering Sea. They remained in the U.S. air defense zone for a few hours but did not violate U.S. airspace. The defense department has not yet revealed whether or not they were intercepted or escorted by U.S. aircraft.