The United States has scrambled fighter jets to intercept Russian bomber planes heading towards America near the Alaskan coast.Two F-22 Raptor stealth jets and an E-3 Sentry early warning plane were dispatched in the first such confrontation since Donald Trump took office.
The US Air Force promptly responded after a pair of Russian nuclear-capable bombers which came as close as 100 miles from Alaska’s Kodiak Island, according to reports.
The two Russian Tu-95 “Bear” tactical bombers flew approximately 280 miles southwest of Elmendorf Air Force Base, within the Air Defense Identification Zone of the United States.
The American jets flew alongside the Russia’s bomber planes for 12 minutes, before the Russian bombers changed course and headed back to their base in eastern Russia.An official quoted by the Washington Examiner said that the TU-95s are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, but the interception was conducted in a “safe and professional” manner.
The Independent reports: The North American Aerospace Defense Command monitors approaches to the US’ area of interest, just outside its sovereign airspace.
Russian military aircraft have been intercepted around 60 times since 2007, an official said, with the most recent incident coming in 2015.That saw a pair of Russian bombers fly just 40 miles off the coast of California and around Alaska on 4 July, when a pilot reportedly relayed the message: “Good morning, American pilots. We are here to greet you on your Fourth of July Independence Day.”
A Russian intelligence ship, the Viktor Leonov, has recently been spotted off the US coast and two months ago, Russian aircraft had several encounters with the USS Porter as it sailed into the Black Sea.
The latest interception comes after dozens of similar incidents across Europe, seeing multiple countries scramble jets to monitor Russian planes skirting EU airspace in what appear to be deliberate provocations.
Adam Kinzinger, a Republican member of the House of Representatives, told CNN Vladimir Putin’s forces were “trying to show their teeth” by flying so close to the American coast
.“This was a show of force by the Russians to show us that they are still here…an attempt to come up as close as they could to our international borders to see what our reaction would be,” he added.US-Russian relations have soured in the wake of Mr. Trump’s vow to improve ties with Moscow, following mounting tensions over Syria, Ukraine, and North Korea.
On a visit to Russia last week, Rex Tillerson described the situation “at a low point” following talks with Mr. Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.