A formation of Russian fighters and bombers were intercepted off the coast of Alaska by American stealth F-22 Raptor fighter jets last week. The U.S. planes were launched in order to identify the Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers and Su-35 Flanker fighters as they entered into the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone. This zone is about 200 miles off the coast and almost entirely inside the international airspace. However, the United States expects aircrafts entering this area to identify themselves to air traffic controllers.
The Russian planes never crossed into American sovereign air space, which is found about 12 miles off the coast. However, officials won’t say how close these planes got to the coast due to security concerns. The interception happened around 5pm Alaska time and a Russian A-50 “Mainstay” Airborne Early Warning Aircraft also entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone later, but wasn’t intercepted.
Since 2014, the United States hasn’t observed the Su-35 near Alaska. Russian bombers have been spotted near Alaska at least four times over the past month. These flights mark the first known of Russian warplanes near the United States coast since July 2015 when a Russian warplane was intercepted off the coast of Californian in international airspace.
Is There Any Cause for Alarm
Officials stated the interception was safe and professional and should not cause any alarm. They also said the Russian flights were routine and the United States conducts many similar flights in international airspace near Russia.
Due to the strained tension between the U.S. and Russia and the intensification after the bombing of the Syrian air base, there is a bit more edge to these routine flights.
President Trump stated earlier in April that the United States was “not getting along with Russia at all.” He even said, “We may be at an all-time low in terms of relationship with Russia.”