US intercepts four Russian warplanes near Alaska

The U.S. military said it intercepted four Russian warplanes near Alaska on Monday.

North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said it detected four Russian aircraft, including TU-95 BEAR-H bombers and SU-35 fighter aircraft, entering and operating within the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), according to a Tuesday statement from the command.  

NORAD officials said they had anticipated the Russian activity and were able to quickly scramble two F-16 fighters to intercept the Kremlin aircraft in the ADIZ, which covers the international airspace outside of the U.S. and Canada near the far northern state. 

Two F-35A fighters, an E-3 Sentry and two KC-135 Stratotankers were also sent to assist.  

The command noted that the incident is in no way related to objects shot down over the United States and Canada this month and that the Russian aircraft did not enter the two countries’ sovereign airspace.  

NORAD routinely monitors foreign aircraft in the ADIZ and escorts them out as needed, with the last such occurrence happening in October. In that incident, two Russian bombers entered the airspace.  

Because such Russian activity happens so regularly — an average of six to seven intercepts of Kremlin military aircraft in the ADIZ annually since 2007 — it is “not seen as a threat, nor is the activity seen as provocative,” according to NORAD.  

Tensions between the U.S. and Russia remain high, however, due to Moscow’s war in Ukraine that is nearing the end of its first year.  

Three Russian warplanes also were in the skies near Polish airspace on Monday, with two Dutch F-35s intercepting those aircraft.  

The United States is also on high alert after it and Canada shot down three unidentified objects over Alaska, Lake Huron and Canadian territory in the past week, in addition to the massive suspected Chinese spy balloon shot off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4.   

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