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US F-16 intercepts Russian bombers near Alaska airspace

May 3

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Nuclear-capable Russian military aircraft flew within the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Thursday, May 2, prompting an intercept by an American F-16. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) monitored their flight path but emphasized that the situation was not as severe as it might seem.

Russian Defense Ministry

The Alaska ADIZ extends 150 miles beyond U.S. sovereign airspace, requiring foreign aircraft to identify themselves for national security reasons. NORAD confirmed that the Russian aircraft remained in international airspace and did not pose an immediate threat to U.S. or Canadian territories.

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Russian state media described the flight as a training mission, noting that two Tu-95MS strategic bombers completed a routine 11-hour flight over the neutral waters of the Bering Sea near Alaska’s western coast, escorted by two Su-30SM fighter jets.

The 70-year-old Tu-95 bombers, capable of launching nuclear and conventional long-range strikes, are routinely used for cruise missile attacks on Ukraine. In April, Russian Tu-95s launched cruise missiles toward Ukraine, prompting Kyiv to issue a nationwide air alert.

The head of Kyiv’s military administration reported missiles targeting the capital in groups during three separate attacks over four days.

In Lviv Oblast, 20 missiles reportedly targeted “critical infrastructure.” Monitoring Russian military activity near U.S. airspace is a standard part of NORAD’s defense strategy, which includes deploying satellites, radars, and fighter jets to ensure national security. NORAD averages six to seven intercepts of Russian military aircraft per year since 2007.

NORAD noted that such missions are common and not considered threatening, with previous detections in the Alaska Air Defense Zone occurring on two separate occasions in February.

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[RYAN ROBERTSON]

NUCLEAR CAPABLE RUSSIAN MILITARY AIRCRAFT FLEW WITHIN THE ALASKA AIR DEFENSE IDENTIFICATION ZONE THURSDAY. AN AMERICAN F-16 WAS SCRAMBLED TO INTERCEPT THE RUSSIAN PLANES…AND NORAD, THE NORTH AMERICAN AEROSPACE DEFENSE COMMAND, MONITORED THEIR FLIGHT PATH….BUT, THE US MILITARY SAYS IT SOUNDS WORSE THAN IT IS. HERE’S WHY…THE ALASKA AD-ID ZONE EXTENDS 150 MILES BEYOND U.S. SOVEREIGN AIRSPACE, AND REQUIRES FOREIGN AIRCRAFT TO IDENTIFY THEMSELVES FOR NATIONAL SECURITY PURPOSES. NORAD SAYS THE RUSSIAN AIRCRAFT REMAINED IN INTERNATIONAL AIRSPACE AND POSED NO IMMEDIATE THREAT TO U.S. OR CANADIAN TERRITORIES. RUSSIAN STATE MEDIA ARE CONFIRMING THE FLIGHT AS A TRAINING MISSION… ADDING TWO TU-95MS STRATEGIC BOMBERS COMPLETED A ROUTINE 11-HOUR FLIGHT OVER THE NEUTRAL WATERS OF THE BERING SEA NEAR ALASKA’S WESTERN COAST — WITH TWO SU-30SM FIGHTER JETS PROVIDING ESCORT. RUSSIA’S 70 YEAR OLD TU-95 BOMBERS ARE CAPABLE OF LAUNCHING NUCLEAR AND CONVENTIONAL LONG-RANGE STRIKES. THEY’RE ROUTINELY USED FOR CRUISE MISSILE ATTACKS ON UKRAINE. WHICH HAPPENED JUST LAST MONTH. AFTER RUSSIAN TU-95s LAUNCHED CRUISE MISSILES TOWARD UKRAINE–KYIV ISSUED A NATIONWIDE AIR ALERT. THE HEAD OF THE CITY’S MILITARY ADMINISTRATION SAID MISSILES TARGETED THE CAPITAL IN GROUPS DURING THREE SEPARATE ATTACKS OVER FOUR DAYS. IN LVIV – 20 MISSILES WERE REPORTEDLY FIRED AT THE REGION TARGETING “CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE.” MONITORING RUSSIAN MILITARY ACTIVITY NEAR U.S. AIRSPACE IS A STANDARD PART OF NORAD’S DEFENSE STRATEGY. THIS INCLUDES DEPLOYING SATELLITES, RADARS, AND FIGHTER JETS TO ENSURE NATIONAL SECURITY. SINCE 2007, NORAD IS AVERAGING BETWEEN SIX AND SEVEN INTERCEPTS OF RUSSIAN MILITARY AIRCRAFT A YEAR. AND THEY WERE PREVIOUSLY DETECTED IN THE ALASKA AIR DEFENSE ZONE ON TWO SEPARATE OCCASIONS IN FEBRUARY. WHICH IS WHY NORAD SAYS THESE MISSIONS ARE COMMON AND ARE NOT CONSIDERED THREATENING.