U.S. and Royal Canadian air force fighter jets on Monday intercepted two Russian reconnaissance aircraft north of Alaska, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) announced on Tuesday.
The U.S. F-22 Raptors and Canadian CF-18 Hornets “intercepted two Russian Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance aircraft entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone,” NORAD said over multiple posts to Twitter.
NORAD F-22s, CF-18s, supported by KC-135 Stratotanker and E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft, intercepted two Russian Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance aircraft entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone on Monday, March 9th. pic.twitter.com/39n3zqy8F8— North American Aerospace Defense Command (@NORADCommand) March 10, 2020
The fighters — supported by an E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning And Control System and a KC-135 Stratotanker — escorted the Russian planes for the four hours they remained in the zone, which extends 200 miles off Alaska's coast.
NORAD said the Russian aircraft remained in international airspace over the Beaufort Sea and came as close as 50 nautical miles to the coast but did not enter U.S. or Canadian airspace.
“NORAD continues to operate in the Arctic across multiple domains,” NORAD Commander Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy said in the Twitter statement.
“As we continue to conduct exercises and operations in the north, we are driven by a single unyielding priority: defending the homelands.”
Russia commonly flies bomber plane air patrols near Alaska, which the United States sometimes intercepts. The Russians conducted 48 such patrols in 2019, according to O’Shaughnessy.