U.S. Air Force fighters F-22 intercepted two Tupolev Tu-95s, the Russian strategic bombers off the coast of Alaska. NORAD, the HQ of North American Aerospace Defense Command, reported that, with The Washington Free Beacon quoting the agency.
'The bombers were detected flying near the Aleutian Islands, said Michael Kucharek, a spokesman for the Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). "Two Alaskan-based NORAD F-22 fighters intercepted and visually identified two Tu-95 ‘Bear' long-range bomber aircraft flying in the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone, south of the Aleutian Islands," the official told the outlet.
The Russian aircraft did not enter the U.S. or Canadian airspace; F-22s escorted Tu-95s until they left the identification area.
The Pentagon added that Ilyushin Il-78, the tanker aircraft, accompanied the bombers, which could mean they needed refueling during the long flight.
The intercept coincided with Vostok, the military drills conducted by the Russian Armed Forces in the Far East, so the flight could be the part of the exercise. The U.S. side assumed the Russian bombers might intend to imitate a cruise missile strike on the Alaskan anti-aircraft defense system.