Six Russian military aircraft were intercepted off the coast of Alaska by NORAD fighter jets on May 20, 2019.
Two Tupolev Tu-95s “Bear” were first intercepted by a pair of NORAD F-22 fighters while they were flying west of Canada.
A second formation of two Tu-95 escorted by two Su-35 fighters was later intercepted by an additional two F-22s.
Both operations were being monitored by an E-3 AWACS aircraft. “The Russian bombers and fighters remained in international airspace,” said the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in a press release, adding that “at no time did the aircraft enter United States or Canadian sovereign airspace.”
The Russian aircraft were escorted out of the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which extends up to about 320 km from the coast.
NORAD fighters intercepted Russian bombers+fighters entering Alaskan ADIZ May 20. 2x Tu-95s were intercepted by 2x F-22s; a second group of 2x Tu-95+2x Su-35 was intercepted later by 2 more F-22’s; NORAD E-3 provided overall surveillance. The aircraft remained in int’l airspace pic.twitter.com/VrNuSWFOQm
— North American Aerospace Defense Command (@NORADCommand) May 21, 2019
The ADIZ is a perimeter beyond national airspace in which air traffic is being monitored by the army of one or more countries. This zone provides an additional reaction time in case of hostile maneuver.
The NORAD is a bi-national organization in charge of defending the airspaces of the United States of America and Canada. It is in charge of the Operation Noble Eagle which has been established in the wake of September 11, 2001 and has conducted about 1,900 interceptions since then.
“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 General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, the NORAD Commander.