U.S. fighter jets intercepted a formation of six Russian military aircraft operating near Alaska last week.
On Monday, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) announced it had detected the Russian aircraft operating near the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on May 11. NORAD’s Alaska region dispatched F-16 and F-22 fighter jets, KC-135 Stratotankers, and E-3 airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft to intercept the group of Russian Tu-95 bombers, IL-78 tankers and Su-35 fighter jets.
According to NORAD, the Russian aircraft remained in international airspace and did not enter the sovereign airspace of the United States or Canada.
Like territorial waters, a nation’s airspace extends for up to 12 nautical miles from its coastline. An ADIZ is a zone that extends even further beyond a nation’s sovereign airspace in which that nation will attempt to identify, locate, and intercept incoming aircraft. NORAD relies on a layered network of defense satellites, ground and airborne radars, and fighter aircraft to enforce the Alaskan ADIZ.
Intercepts like the one that took place last week are relatively common. U.S. F-35 fighter jets intercepted Russian aircraft in the ADIZ twice in the span of less than a week in February. Since 2007, NORAD has seen an average of six or seven intercepts of Russian military aircraft in the ADIZ each year, with some years reaching as many as 15 intercept missions and other years with no such incidents.
NORAD said it did not perceive the Russian aircraft as posing a threat, but said, “We remain ready to employ a number of response options in defense of North America and Arctic sovereignty.”
NTD News reached out to NORAD for additional details about the intercept incident but did not receive a response by the time this article was published.
Timing of Intercept
According to NORAD, this particular intercept incident occurred as the U.S. military is conducting several planned large-scale U.S. military training exercises in Alaska.
The intercept incident also came just days after Russian officials said they intercepted a pair of armed drones flying toward the Kremlin in an alleged attempt to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian officials have accused the United States of orchestrating the alleged attack.
Ties between the United States and Russia have been particularly strained in recent years, with the U.S. providing regular military assistance to the Ukrainian government in its fight against invading Russian forces.
Last week, President Joe Biden’s administration announced another $1.2 billion in military aid for Ukraine, raising the total U.S. aid for Ukraine to $36.9 billion since the start of the Russian invasion in February of last year. The new spending will be used to support Ukrainian air defenses and provide more ammunition for their artillery systems.
During a Wednesday town hall-style interview with CNN, 2024 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would rapidly negotiate a peaceful settlement to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. When asked whether he would prefer to see Ukraine win the war, the former president and leading Republican presidential contender said he’s not looking at the ongoing conflict in terms of determining a “winning” or “losing” side.
“I think of it in terms of getting it settled,” Trump said. “I want everybody to stop dying.”
Trump also said that if he were still president the ongoing war “would have never happened.” He also asserted that, if elected, he could bring the fighting to an end within 24 hours of starting negotiations.
The Biden administration has repeatedly vowed to support Ukraine through the war. When Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in February, he said he was there to “reaffirm our unwavering and unflagging commitment to Ukraine’s democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.”