The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said that two long-range Russian Tupolev Tu-95 “Bear” bombers were intercepted and identified by two Alaska-based NORAD F-22 Raptors on Friday morning in international airspace off western Alaska, Agence France-Presse reports.
NORAD is a United States and Canada bi-national organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America.
Canadian Army Major Andrew Hennessy, NORAD public affairs official, said the Russian aircraft flew in the Air Defense Identification Zone, north of the Aleutian Islands. Air Defense Identification Zone extends for about 200 miles from the coastline, mostly in international airspace.
“At no time did the Russian bombers enter North American sovereign airspace,” Major Hennessy said in statement provided to Agence France-Presse.
He added that the F-22 Raptors monitored the Russian bombers until they left the Air Defense Identification Zone.
NORAD is celebrating its 60th year this weekend.
US Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Air Force General Paul J. Selva said during NORAD’s 60th anniversary celebration on May 12 at Peterson Air Force Base Museum in Colorado that the threat of attack from Soviet bombers and missiles was what citizens experienced.
General Selva said NORAD helped alleviate the fear. “It helped build one of the building blocks of deterrence that has served us since that day,” he said.
“We find other challenges when we look to the high north. The Arctic is melting, creating more accessibility for commercial purposes, but also challenging continental security. I have no doubt that NORAD will adapt,” Selva added.
Sources: https://www.afp.com/en/news/826/russian-bombers-intercepted-alaska-norad-doc-14t5l01; https://www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/1519580/norad-60-years-of-keeping-north-america-safe-vice-chairman-says/