Two F-22 Raptors were scrambled from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii on Sunday at about 4:00 p.m. local time. A third F-22 joined them about an hour later along with a KC-135 refueling tanker. 

This scramble, described as an “irregular patrol,” was initiated at the request of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which reported an “incident.” That terse message immediately got the attention of the news media. The Air Force would only say that it was responding to a request from the FAA and that it was not a training exercise. When peppered with requests for information by several media outlets, the FAA released only a short message when Public Affairs Spokesman Ian Gregor said only that “The FAA has a close working relationship with the military.”

Now it has been released that the stealth fighters were scrambled in response to a large Russian naval exercise conducted about 300 to 500 miles west of Hawaii. The exercise came just prior to President Biden’s first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Europe.

The Largest Russian Exercise in the Pacific Since the Cold War

An F-22 Raptor in Hawaii.
F-22 Raptor fighter jet launches from a U.S. airbase in Hawaii. (U.S. Air Force)

The Russian Navy exercise, which includes surface ships, anti-submarine aircraft, and long-range bombers is the largest Pacific Ocean exercise conducted since the collapse of the Soviet Union.