US fighter jets intercept Russian aircraft near Alaska
Stars and Stripes May 15, 2023
WASHINGTON — U.S. fighter jets intercepted six Russian aircraft last week operating in international airspace near Alaska, military officials announced Monday.
F-16 and F-22 fighter jets on Thursday intercepted Russian aircraft that included TU-95 bombers, IL-78 tankers and SU-35 fighter jets, according to officials with the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD. The Russian planes remained in international airspace and did not enter U.S. or Canadian territory.
The flights occurred during several large-scale U.S. military training exercises that are ongoing in Alaska.
NORAD described the incident as “routine,” saying this happens six or seven times a year in the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone, a stretch of mostly international airspace some 200 nautical miles off the Alaskan coast.
“This Russian activity in the North American ADIZ occurs regularly and is not seen as a threat,” NORAD said in a statement. “NORAD tracks and positively identifies all military aircraft that enter the ADIZ, routinely monitors aircraft movements and, as necessary, escorts them from the ADIZ.”
The U.S. aircraft involved in the incident also included KC-135 Stratotankers and E-3 AWACS, according to the statement.
Thursday’s intercept was at least the third one in 2023. The previous incidents happened on consecutive days in February. Military officials at the time said the Russian planes were in no way related to incidents in which U.S. fighter jets shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon or multiple unidentified objects over U.S. and Canadian airspace.