RUSSIAN bombers buzzed airspace off the coast of Alaska today, with US fighter jets scrambled for an urgent intercept.
Two Russian TU-95 planes, nicknamed ‘Bear bombers’, were intercepted by US F-22 fighter jets after they flew into the Air Defense Identification Zone, an area stretching 200 miles off the coast of Alaksa.
The North American Aerospace Defence Command said: “At approximately 10 am ET, two Alaskan-based NORAD F-22 fighters intercepted and visually identified two Russian TU-95 'Bear' long-range bomber aircraft flying in the Air Defense Identification Zone around the western coast of Alaska, north of the Aleutian Islands.”
The statement said the Russian jets were “intercepted and monitored” but never entered US airspace.
It is the first incident of the kind since US jets intercepted Russian aircraft over a year ago on May 3, 2017.
Russia’s state-run news agency TASS said the US jets did not come within “100 metres” of the Russian aircraft.
Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said: “The Tu-95MS strategic bombers operated by the Aerospace Forces and the Tu-142 long-range anti-submarine aircraft operated by the Navy successfully performed a planned flight over the neutral waters of the Arctic Ocean, the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk on May 11.
"At some section of the route the aircraft operated by the Russian Aerospace Forces that were carrying out a patrol flight were escorted by two F-22 jets of the US Air Force for 40 minutes, which did not approach them closer than 100 meters.”
Russia regularly tests the patience and nerve of its rivals by flying near or through enemy airspace and it is just the latest examples of belligerent Russian activity in recent weeks.
Russia Russian jets buzzed airspace near Alaska today Last month NATO jets were scrambled jets on four separate occasions when Russian jets flew through international airspace over the Baltic Sea to the enclave of Kaliningrad In November last year the Russian destroyer destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov raised tensions when it passed through the Channel without permission.
And in August NATO jets were scrambled to intercept Russian jets flying over Europe, buzzing Estonian territory.