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On Wednesday evening, for the fifth time in recent weeks, two Russian TU-95 Bear Bombers entered the Alaska Air Defense Zone, this time, escorted by two Su-35 fighter jets, U.S. officials reported.
The four aircraft were intercepted by two F-22 stealth fighter jets that had been already airborne and conducting a patrol near Chariot, Alaska, north of Nome. The encounter in international airspace began at approximately 5 pm Alaska Time and continued for several hours. During the encounter, the four Russian warplanes flew as close as fifty miles from Point Hope in northwest Alaska
Although the bombers were escorted by the advanced Su-35, those fighter jets appeared unarmed. Also detected was a lone A-50 Mainstay surveillance aircraft, it was not intercepted.
While this level of activity has not been seen near the U.S. in a couple of years, officials insist that it is not unusual or a cause for concern, and are most likely training missions.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the bomber were engaged in patrolling the waters off of the Aleutian Islands in international airspace.
The U.S. carries out this same type of air missions near the coasts of both China and Russia.
Alaska Governor Bill Walker issued a statement Thursday morning, saying, “Yesterday, U.S. Air Force F-22s intercepted four Russian military aircraft—two fighter jets and two bombers—that entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone. They also monitored an airborne radar platform that entered the Alaskan ADIZ as well. The Russian aircraft were intercepted and visually identified near the west coast of Alaska. This is the fifth time in less than two weeks that Russian aircraft have encroached Alaskan skies. This is deeply unsettling, and underscores the immediate need for a more robust military presence in Alaska.”