Colorado Springs, CO, United States (4E) – The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has confirmed that Russian bombers flew close to Alaska and California this week and U.S. fighter jets were deployed to intercept them.
NORAD said four Russian Tu-95 Bear-H long-range bombers and an Il-76 refueling tanker entered the outer portion of the North American air defense identification zone (ADIZ) near Alaska at 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time on Monday.
Two U.S. Air Force F-22 fighter jets sent to intercept the bombers visually identified the Russian aircraft and shadowed them until they left the ADIZ, said NORAD spokeswoman and Canadian Army Capt. Jennifer Stadnyk.
Two of the Tu-95s headed west and left the ADIZ while the other two left the zone heading south and re-entered the ADIZ near northern California around 9:30 p.m. Pacific Time. The bombers flew 50 miles off the California coast and two F-15s based in Oregon were scrambled and followed the bombers until they left the ADIZ, Stadnyk said.
“The [Russian] aircraft remained in international airspace at all times, behaved professionally, and undertook no dangerous military activities,” Stripes.com quoted Stadnyk as saying. “At no time did any of the bombers ever enter sovereign [U.S.] airspace.”
The pilots from both sides were also in contact with each other but she gave no details. She believes the Russian bombers were on a training mission.
The last time a Russian aircraft flew close to California’s coast was July 2012, she added.