US F-35 Jets Intercept Russian Fighter Aircraft Near Alaska, 2nd Time in 2 Days

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
February 16, 2023US News
US F-35 Jets Intercept Russian Fighter Aircraft Near Alaska, 2nd Time in 2 Days
A U.S. Air Force's (USAF) fifth-generation supersonic multirole F-35 fighter jet flies past during a flying display on the second day of the 14th edition of Aero India 2023 at the Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bengaluru, India, on Feb. 14, 2023. (Manjunath Kiran/AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. F-35 jets on Thursday intercepted Russian planes near Alaska for the second time this week, according to a statement from U.S. military officials.

The U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) confirmed in a statement that two F-35A fighter jets intercepted four Russian aircraft, including a nuclear-capable TU-95 bomber, SU-30, and SU-35 fighter jets. Other U.S. planes that were deployed included an E-3 AWACS plane and two KC-135 stratotankers, according to NORAD.

The planes were intercepted near Alaska’s Air Defense Identification Zone, known as the ADIZ, on Feb. 14, said NORAD’s statement on Thursday.

“Russian aircraft remained in international airspace and did not enter American or Canadian sovereign airspace,” the statement said, noting it was the “second intercept of Russian aircraft in two days.”

But it stressed that the Russian air activity appears to be routine and is “not seen as a threat” nor is it “seen as provocative.” Meanwhile, NORAD said the two incidents this week are “in no way connected to recent NORAD and U.S. Northern Command operations” that shot down airborne objects over the United States and Canada in recent days.

As of Thursday afternoon, Russia’s Ministry of Defense has not made any public comments about the latest incident.

Russia said on Wednesday that it had carried out several flights over international waters in recent days, including in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia. It said two of its TU-95MS strategic missile carriers had flown over the Bering Sea accompanied by SU-30 jets, and that it had made similar “routine” flights north of Norway and over international waters near Russia’s far east.

It did not say whether its aircraft had been intercepted. However, the Defense Ministry said its “long-range aviation pilots regularly perform flights over the neutral waters of the Arctic, North Atlantic, Black Sea, Baltic Sea and Pacific Ocean.”

Russia’s air force has made similar moves near Alaska’s airspace about six to seven times per year, NORAD noted. U.S. fighter jets this week intercepted four aircraft that entered the ADIZ on Feb. 13, according to a previous statement, which also said the incident wasn’t linked to the downing of unidentified objects over North America.

High Alert

North American security forces have been on high alert since a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon crossed into U.S. airspace, prompting the United States to shoot it and other objects down as it combs the skies.

Both NORAD and U.S. Northern Command confirmed American fighter jets shot down objects over Alaska, Canada’s Yukon Territory, and Michigan’s Lake Huron several days ago. It came after a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down near South Carolina after it traveled over much of the continental U.S.

Dutch F-35 fighter jets were also scrambled to intercept Russian aircraft near NATO airspace earlier this week, according to a Ministry of Defense statement.

“The-then unknown aircraft approached the Polish NATO area of responsibility from Kaliningrad,” the Dutch ministry’s statement said. It was referring to the Russian enclave formerly known as Konigsberg that’s sandwiched between NATO members Poland and Lithuania along the Baltic Sea.

“After identification, it turned out to be three aircraft: a Russian IL-20M Coot-A that was escorted by two Su-27 Flankers,” the Dutch ministry’s statement continued. “The Dutch F-35s escorted the formation from a distance and handed over the escort to NATO partners.”

While Russia has carried out flights over the Bering Sea before, its neighbours in the region have become more concerned about Moscow’s military activity since its invasion of Ukraine last year.

NATO member states have also ramped up military exercises in the Arctic in recent years, as Russia has expanded and renewed its military infrastructure in the region.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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