Air Force intercepting record number of Russian aircraft, says Alaska-based lieutenant general
By BRIAN NIEMIETZ | The New York Daily News | Published: April 29, 2021
NEW YORK (Tribune News Service) — U.S. jets are intercepting more Russian aircraft than ever off the West Coast, says one Alaskan-based military official.
“We have certainly seen an increase in Russian activity,” according to Lt. Gen. David Krumm. “We intercepted over 60 aircraft last year ... We monitor more than that.”
A report in Air Force Times says that number marks the most action that’s been recorded in the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone since the demise of the Soviet Union nearly 30 years ago. That zone covers 200 nautical miles expanding into international airspace. The Anchorage Daily News wrote in 2015 that 10 Russian incursions were addressed by U.S. forces annually.
Krumm reportedly told a forum sponsored by the Air Force Association that the intercepts put a “strain” on U.S. forces, but that the situation is being managed “very, very effectively.”
The U.S. currently sends F-22 Raptor fighter jets to greet Russian aircraft in the Arctic, which includes spy planes and strategic bombers. Krumm indicated that the Air Force is considering delegating some of those responsibilities to other units to free up the F22s for training exercises and other assignments. He noted that “there is a cost” in deploying those top-flight jets, but didn’t speak about what sort of alternatives are being explored.