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U.S. Warplanes Intercept 2 Russian Bomber Formations Within 20 miles of Alaska's Coast

KUAC file photo

U.S. warplanes intercepted two formations of Russian aircraft off Alaska’s coasts this morning. The first of the two bomber formations flew within 20 nautical miles of Alaska, according to a news release issued today by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD.Russian aircraft are routinely intercepted when they enter international airspace off Alaska, most recently in March and April. But this morning’s intercepts occurred closer to U.S. territory than usual, although NORAD officials said neither of the bomber formations entered U.S. airspace -- only the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone.

The NORAD news release says the first formation consisted of two Russian Tu-95 bombers, accompanied by two Su-35 fighter jets and an A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft, similar to the U.S. AWACS aircraft.

In response, U.S. military authorities scrambled two F-22 fighters and at least two KC-135 air-refueling tankers, along with an E-3 AWACS plane. All the U.S. aircraft are believed to have been based in Alaska, but NORAD routinely declines to provide that and other information related to Russian aircraft intercepts.

The NORAD news release says U.S. warplanes also intercepted the second Russian bomber formation, which consisted of two Tu-95s and an A-50. That formation flew within 30 nautical miles of Alaska’s coastline.

The U.S. warplanes accompanied the Russian aircraft until they left the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone.


Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.