UPDATE: U.S. fighters intercept Russian bombers flying near Alaska for second day in a row
UPDATE: For a second consecutive day, U.S. fighter jets intercepted Russian warplanes flying too close to American airspace near Alaska, military officials said Wednesday.
This latest incident happened Tuesday, as two pairs of F-22 fighters and an Airborne Warning And Control System, or AWACS, surveillance craft were sent to keep an eye on two Tu-95 bombers and a pair of Su-35 fighter jets, according to a statement by the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
The Russian aircraft remained in international skies and at no time entered U.S. or Canadian sovereign airspace, according to NORAD. But the Russian crafts were inside a buffer zone known as the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone, officials said.
It was the second day in a row U.S. fighters have had to be dispatched to monitor Russian activities near Alaska, officials said.
"This is the fourth and fifth intercepts this year and the second day in a row that Russian bombers have flown into the Alaskan ADIZ," according to NORAD.
Russia's Ministry of Defense acknowledged Monday's incident, saying its planes were in the region on scheduled training exercises, but have not responded to Tuesday's activity.
NORAD averages about six to seven Russian intercepts a year, the joint American-Canadian defense operation said.
PREVIOUS STORY: U.S. fighter jets on Monday intercepted a half-dozen Russian warplanes off the coast of Alaska and kept tabs on the aircraft until they left the region, authorities said Tuesday.
The F-22 fighters intercepted four Russian bombers and two Russian fighter planes entering an area designated as the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone.
"The Russian bombers and fighters remained in international airspace and at no time did the aircraft enter United States or Canadian sovereign airspace," the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said in a statement.
NORAD, headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base near Colorado Springs, Colorado, is a joint U.S. and Canadian effort responsible for protecting North American airspace.
“NORAD’s top priority is defending Canada and the United States. Our ability to deter and defeat threats to our citizens, vital infrastructure and national institutions starts with successfully detecting, tracking and positively identifying aircraft of interest approaching U.S. and Canadian airspace,” said Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, the NORAD commander.
Russia's Ministry of Defense acknowledged its planes were in the region — on scheduled training exercises.
"Four #Tu95MS strategic missile carriers of the Russian #AerospaceForces made scheduled sorties over the neutral waters of the Chukotka, Bering and Okhotsk seas, as well as along the western coast of Alaska and the northern coast of the Aleutian Islands," the Ministry of Defense tweeted on Tuesday morning.